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DC Townsend
David Townsend
(406 posts)

11/21/2007 12:22PM

Main British Car:
'78 B (almost done) 30-over SBF, dry sump

authors avatar
'79 B with Ford 302 Dry Sump- Part I
Posted by: DC Townsend
Date: May 23, 2009 09:35PM

After more than a year of planning and sourcing parts and pieces, I dragged the 'donor' over to my place from NH using a rented trailer and the help of a fellow builder. The "B" has sat more or less unmolested for the past 13 years and spent another 10 years under cover in a barn. It has some wear and tear but is complete (less motor and trans which I donated to the seller).



There's some rust in the usual places - front and rear lower wings, rocker panels - but overall, the car is pretty solid. Doors don't sag or droop, hood and trunk fit well and close nicely. The interior is in pretty rough shape but I'm going to be tossing most of it anyway.

Plan is for Sebring front and rear valances, fender flares, MGC hood.

Motor is a dry sump 302, bored .30 over and decked for a substantial raise in compression. This shot was taken w/rear exit exhausts which are being swapped for a set of Sunbeam Tiger manifolds. I know I'm going to lose some HP but like the idea of being close to George Snively's 'original' idea. Motor is complete (early pic) with Jones Racing power steering (remote reservoir) pump installed. Fuel will feed into reworked Autolite 4100 (thanks, Pony Carbs) and through Weiand Stealth. Everything has been port matched.


Started the tear down tonight and made some decent progress. Tomorrow I'll work on completing stripping out the engine bay and tearing out the dash. Looks like there's going to be some parts heading off to e-Bay.




Original plan was to paint it Brooklands Green (same as the Cobra I just sold) but now I'm thinking about the silver blue of the Snively car. Some other details; I have a nice double hump roll bar coming from the UK by way of a Canadian friend (but may stick with something race legal in case I want to track this beast at some point), will be using a stock Ford 5.0 radiator installed at an angle to clear the hood, heater tray will be going so I can move the motor back a few inches. I'm going back and forth on the rear end between a Ford 8.8 from Fast Cars or the very sweet IRS unit from the UK. Decisions, decisions. There's always the option of keeping the stock unit and installing a Quaiffe. The front suspension is going to be coil over, exhaust will be 2 1/2" stainless flowing through Spintech mufflers. Still debating on whether to go true dual or two in to one.

Well, that's it for now. I'll post some more as I bump along and I'll make sure I post some better shots of the motor.

5/24 - Made some more progress. No too many surprises. A few rusted fittings and a few nests where it looks like I have unintentionally made some mice homeless. The steering column was a bit of chore until I figured out that the steering knuckle was slotted for the bolt. Sure came out a lot easier with the bolt all of the way out. LOL. I'll be replacing the factory column with a Flaming River that will include cruise control and tilt.


Also had fun removing the brake booster and master cylinders. Those Brits are pretty clever hiding the occasional bolt here and there, where no human fingers or tools can reach. I'm starting to get used to the idea of disassembling some completely unrelated parts to get to the one I want to take off.

Front valance came off with some persuasion and only drilling out one of the bolts. The valance was trash but that's okay, front end is going to get a Sebring kit anyway. Also managed to remove the headlights. One bucket was rusted through, the other one was fine. Looked like they came off two different cars. Side markers are in good shape but will need a new home.

Hoping to get the dash out and the windshield off tomorrow. Then it will have to sit for a few days until I can squeeze in some more time. Goal is to have it stripped down by mid-June and then start some of the sheet metal mods to accommodate the motor being pushed back.

Until next time...

Well, it's "next time". Hadn't actually intended to work on the "B" today but weather and events conspired to give me some time. Pulling the dash went pretty well although I had to cut one of the mounting bolts off as the nut simply wouldn't budge. I'll repair it before I reinstall. Removed (and tossed) all of the wiring. Looked like several folks had tried their hand at various "improvements" - most done badly. I'll be installing a new Painless harness anyway.


Also removed the windscreen, defrost vents and various other bits and pieces. Most of the seals are in good shape but the scuttle seal will need replacement.


Lastly, took a few minutes to vacuum up the remnants the mice left behind, remove a few other lines and fittings. I'm going to try and get the interior gutted and the doors disassembled during the evenings this week then spend some time on the weekend pulling the back end apart. Progress is being made.


5/30 - Good news, bad news. Was able to spend some time last night and this morning (Saturday) tearing into the back end and removing the left front fender. On the good news side of things, the driver's floor pan is solid and the driver's door is also better than expected...just some minor rust through underneath. I tried to remove the door from the hinges but even with my hand-held impact driver, it wouldn't budge. Anyone out there reading this that has a suggestion on how to loosen the hinge screws, please feel free to PM me.


I also expected there to be some damage in the cowl area where it meets the fender but, to my surprise, it looks pretty solid.

Okay, now the bad news. The driver's side rocker had some cancer in it near the bottom but nothing too serious. Same for the lower front wing. Nothing unusual, about what you'd expect for a '79 B that's spent its life in the Northeast. Once the fender was removed, the extent of the rot became clearer. Looks like I'll be replacing the rocker and a few other pieces.


Also had some bad news (and some good news) on the deck lid. Everything came apart well enough but it looks like the lid had been repaired...but not very well. Whoever did the work welded the catch and lock in and never really straightened the part correctly so it looks like I'm in the market for a new deck lid. I could probably salvage this one, but it will be more work than it's worth. Sigh. On the positive side of things, the trunk floor is in solid shape.


Lastly, I removed the driver's seat and began to strip out the interior. I was pleasantly surprised to see most of the sheet metal in very good condition. All in all, not a bad day. As long as it keeps raining, I'll be able to make good progress as most of my house projects are all outdoors. I know eventually I'll have to pay the piper once the sun comes out, but for now...

That's it for now. Tomorrow I'm going to drop the rear bumper, strip the passenger-side door and, if I get lucky, remove the passenger front fender. After that, it's on to the last of the mechanical components. I'm on track to have it down to the bones by Father's Day.

5/31 - Well, plans to remove the rear bumper were changed - it was raining hard and the rear end of the "B" is so close to the garage door that I would have to be hanging out in the weather in order to do the deed. I know, what a whus. Instead, I managed to remove the driver's door (thanks Graham for the excellent suggestion) as well as the passenger front fender and a few other bits and pieces. There's a bit of rust on the hood opening and some of the rocker panel inner and outer, one small spot on the passenger floor board but, otherwise the rest of the front end and cockpit look solid.



I need to start moving some of the take-off parts out of the garage and into new homes. So, if anyone out there is looking for a set of newly reupholstered seats, left and/or right fenders for a rubber bumper car and/or a hood, let me know. Otherwise, they're headed to e-Bay. Need to raise some funds for the Sebring parts.

Vaya con Dios. Until next time...

6/6 - No pics today but I was able to strip and remove the passenger door, liberate the right fender apron, and vacuum up the cockpit of all the debris from the deconstruction process. Satisfying. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain so I'm going to take a crack at dropping the fuel tank and removing the rear bumper. The tank has to go. The smell of the old gas is really stinking up the place and, besides, it will mean all that's left of the tear down is the front and rear suspensions. Any body know if I can use the emissions fuel tank for my non-emissions motor?

The e-Bay sales are going pretty well. Looks like the seats, fenders, and wheels will sell. Another task tomorrow is to photograph the remaining salvage parts and get them to auction. The sooner I raise the money, the sooner I can order the body kit and the real fun will begin. I promise to post some new pictures tomorrow after more of the tear down is complete. 'Til then...

6/7 - It's "Next time". Was able to disassemble the drivers suspension, drop the steering gear and sway bar. Passenger size is being a bit more difficult but I think some application of PB Blaster and heat will help move things along. Good news on the suspension is it's all very tight. I thought with 67,000 miles on the front end it might be a bit loose but there's no play. Now that the chassis is on stands, I was finally able to assess the condition of the underside and was pleasantly surprised to see the frame rails and remaining undercarriage in great shape. So it looks like the only rust is on the outside and center of the rockers and the outside of the rear quarters. Here are the latest pics.



That's it for now. I may take a crack at finishing the disassembly of the passenger front suspension tomorrow then it's on to the rear unit, fuel tank, and bumper. Looks like I have a shot at finishing up the major deconstruction by next weekend.

Keep the rubber side down...

6/14 - I'm baaack! Made some progress dismantling the front and rear suspensions. Left front came apart without any problems, right front was another matter. Wasn't able to get the trunnion or the lower bolts out so ended up removing it with the shock and kingpin. Looks like I'll be springing for new kingpins if I can't get the old one disassembled. Ah, well. Not too bad. X-member is in good shape and doesn't look like it's been bottomed out at all. Should clean up nicely. Empty engine bay should looks sweet.


Struggled with the rear springs, sway bar, and attendant parts. Good deal of corrosion made most things VERY tough to remove. Ended up having to drop the springs shackles to free up the shock link when I couldn't get the top end to go free of the shock (driver's side) or remove the bolt on the end of the spring. On the passenger side, everything came apart nicely but then couldn't get the link to go free (again) and went ahead and dropped the shackle. Sheeesh!


Here's the damage report so far:
• Left front kingpin and knuckle assembly -all in good shape
• Right front assembly - looks like I'm in for a new kingpin (if I can;t free up the trunnion bolt). Will probably go ahead and replace them both (left and right).
• X-member - good shape
• Rear springs - trash but I'm going with the lowering springs anyway
• Shock links - going with tube shock rear so I don't think it matters that I can't get them off the shock arms

The plan is to rebuild the front suspension with lowering springs and a GAZ or SPAX tube shock kit. All new poly bushes throughout. I'm going to keep the stock sway bar for now but plan to upgrade after I get the car on the road. I'm also going to stay with the stock brake set-up but go to slotted rotors and either Mintex or ceramic pads. Same situation in the rear - going to stick with the drum brakes for now and see if I want/need to upgrade later. After my experience with the Cobra and discs, not really sure they're going to be needed on a car this light. The Cobra discs were a bear to balance. There is the cool factor to consider however.

Well, that's it for now. I have one more weekend to complete the tear down then it's going to be on to some body/frame repair, modify the engine compartment for the 302 then undercoat and paint the tub. Oh, almost forgot - tried out the '64 Comet motor mounts. Wow! They fit like they were made for the car. Don't know who first figured out that they would fit but whoever it is deserves some serious props.

Still haven't dropped the fuel tank or removed the rear bumper but will get to them during the week then strip the remaining parts off the chassis over the weekend. The next post should (I hope) include pics of the empty tub in all its glory. Wish me luck!

See you on the road in 2010! Later...

6/21 - Father's Day. Well, here it is...a naked B. Finished up this afternoon around 3PM and spent another 2 hours cleaning up, putting tools away. No more damage that I can find so it looks like new rocker panels is going to be the big fix.


The rear has taken a hit at some point. Nothing serious but the repair work was just awful so I'll be digging out the filler and bumping the panel out at some point. Also looks like I'm going to be springing for a new fuel tank. I dropped the old one and, besides the old fuel, there was ample rust, sediment and other things that just shouldn't be in your fuel.



And here's the last shot for now. I still need to pull the old motor mounts but I'm going to wait until I build the rolling jig and can turn the tub on its side. It will make it much easier to work on. Next steps are to degrease the tub, remove any surface rust, and spray with some anti-rust primer. Then it will be on to body/frame repairs, a few tub modifications that will necessary to fit in the new motor and run the dry sump oil lines (form the trunk). While I'm at it, I'll also route the new wiring harness along the inside (not underneath) the transmission tunnel.


I'm on my own this week (spouse out of town helping sister) so I'm looking to at least get the chassis dolly built and the tub lifted on to it. And, if I have some time, I'll begin stripping down some of the old paint work and cutting away the rotted parts in preparation for the new rockers.

That's it for now. See you out on the road sometime...

6/30 - Well the weekend came...and went. It was crazy busy but I managed to get the chassis rig built and get the tub on top of it. I thought I was going to have some help lifting the chassis but ended up going solo using a floor jack, some 5 gallon plastic tubs, jack stands a pair of saw horses. The whole comedy was worthy of its own project journal but the deed is done and no one was harmed in the process. Pic isn't the best but will give you the idea.


Total investment is about $75 not including the wheels, left over from my last project build. The dolly will also be able to double as a paint stand for the chassis by lifting the body off, removing the cross pieces and setting the tub on it's side inside the uprights. When you're working in one bay of a two bay garage you need to be mobile...and inventive.

As promised some time ago, following are a couple of shots of the dry sump mill that's going in the 'B'. Again, not the best images (it was late last night when I shot these). Still have a few details to work out - alternator mount needs to be flipped to the inside to gain some belt clearance, need to replace the serpentine belt with something shorter, detail and final install the exhaust manifolds, that sort of thing. But, for the most part, it's ready to go in once the tub has been repaired and painted, hopefully, by the end of July.



Parts sales on e-Bay are moving along although the radiator was a tough go. My new found auction success has inspired me to unload a bunch of other parts and pieces I've acquired through the years, more than a few of which had me scratching my head wondering why I'd purchased the part to begin with. So far, I've recovered more than twice what I spent on the donor car and still have the suspension parts and steering rack to peddle.

Planning to start some of the smaller chassis repairs this weekend as well as begin tearing down the rest of the front suspension part, cleaning and repainting, and prepping the remaining suspension pieces for sale on e-Bay. New front suspension pieces arrived from Brit-Tek yesterday (Christmas in June!), Sebring body kit should be there next week sometime and I'm planning to swing by and pick it up on my way back from some business in Portsmouth.

Thanks to all for your interest in this project. Have a great (and safe) Independence Day!

7/8 - No new pics but am making progress on rebuilding the front suspension. Cleaned up and repainted the x-member, front spring perches, pivots, sway bar links and the like. Decided not to try and rebuild the swivels myself after bunging up one of them pretty badly in attempt to disassemble it. Called Bob at Brit-Tek back with my tail between my legs and bought a set of re-built swivels. Much easier. Have one side reassembled with new poly bushings and all new hardware. Plan on completing the other side when I get back from a little jaunt up to the Olympic peninsula to deal with some family stuff. Will be using some of my free time to update my build sheet (boy, has it taken a few turns lately) and to order a few odds and ends to help wrap up the font suspension assembly.

I'll be picking up the Sebring body kit the week after next so cutting and welding will start in earnest fairly soon as I begin the chassis repairs and fit the fenders. Things are coming along.

7/28 - Wow! Has it really been nearly 3 weeks since I've posted? Must be slacking. Big news, though. Here's some pics of the body kit I just picked up from Bob at Brit-Tek. Fiberglass work is actually pretty decent (compared to the Cobra body I'm used to working on) but the fit appears to have some issues. To be be expected, these are essentially race parts and race cars don't need to necessarily look good...just run good. In any case...


Here a couple of shots of the front and rear valances. I was amazed to see those wily Brits actually riveted on the brake duct. Cool! It's going to make it much easier to add the small duct extension as per the original.


And just to prove I wasn't slacking off entirely the past few weeks (I have legitimate reasons, but that's another story), here are some shots of the front suspension in mid-build. Pics came out with a lot of glare but the black is actually satin (Eastwood Ultra Chassis Black Satin). Will probably shoot the whole thing with protective clear after the assembly is complete. It's anal, but that's me. Anal. Am having a set of perches built to replace the shocks so I can mount the arms to locate the upper suspension (going with tube shocks in front). Will post some pics when complete. I know, I know. Could have just gutted the valve from the shocks and mounted them up. Just seemed sort of vestigial (something form the past that has no current purpose) to me. Doesn't involve much - some 3/16 steel plate, steel tube, a set of poly bushings (same as what's used on the wishbones) and some welding (in my case, a good fabrication shop).

As a teaser for things to come, In the next few weeks I'll post some pics of my power steering set up using a Mustang power rack. Unlike the MGOC kit, this modification doesn't require a new x-member, doesn't need any welding, and can be done for less than $350 including the rack, necessary parts, and new tie rod ends. No, I haven't completely lost it (operable word is 'lost'). Just stay tuned.


Cut-off wheel and sawzall are coming out this weekend so I can rough fit the new fenders and see how much additional fabrication I'll need to do. Will try to do my dilligence and take relevant pics as I move along. Keep the faith. Talk to you later...

8/1 - Out came the cut-off wheel and cleckos today. Time to fit the rear fenders and Sebring valance. As noted in an earlier entry, the fit of these panels is just fine for a race car but will require some massaging for an acceptable street car fit and finish. Work started with taping the fender to the body and marking the material that would need to be removed. These panels are intended for a GT so they have some quirks made to accommodate the front pillars, rear pillars, etc. Once the panel was marked, a jigsaw with a metal blade made short work of the excess. Then a quick scuff with some 80 grit to remove any flash or burrs.


Then it was back to the body to mark where the existing fender would be cut away. The blue tape is really helpful here as it makes seeing your cut line much easier when using the cut-off wheel. Once it was masked, out came the power tool. The fender metal is tougher than you'd think and it took two wheels to finish the job. I left about an inch and half all the way round. Plenty to create a strong bond between the fiberglass and the steel.


A little bit of a surprise when I uncovered the lower rocker panel. I expected the outer to be shot, but was surprised to see the castle rail still intact and in relatively good shape. This area is going to take some new metal both for structure but also to help create a smooth transition to the new fender.


Have to love cleckos. I lined up the fender line, then simply ran them around the perimeter, taking time to make sure the new panel was fitting flush to the fender. Over all, fit is decent but there's going to be some glass work needed to blend in the rear valance where it meets the fenders as well as between the existing body and the valance.


Here are some shots of the gaps between the Sebring fender and the existing wheel well. If it weren't for the rear support, you could almost trim the wells down the middle and tub them. It would preserve the basic shape and fit. Going to need to do some thinking on this one. Want the wells to look good and work correctly but would also like to do a minimum amount of work in this area.


There's going to be some glass work needed to match up the valance and the new fender. I had already planned to blend the valance into the existing body so it won't be much extra work to keep going around the fender. Am also going to need to make the small fillers needed under the tail lamp housing. Current plan is to bend them out of metal left from the cut away fender.


And lastly, couldn't have done it without my trusty helper, "Cooper". Shown here giving me some much needed direction.


This week I'll finish cutting away the right rear fender, clecko it in place and start my list of metal repair and fabrication. In other exciting news, I was able to borrow a plastic block so I can test fit the power plant. Should be here this week. The lender was very generous (seriously) and I paid only to have it shipped. Will be returning it when engine fit is complete, saving $300. Also due to arrive this week is the steering rack. Lots to do.

That's it for tonight. Talk to you down the road.

8/10 - Meant to post over the weekend but things got away from me. Screwed up my courage, whipped out the cutting wheel (I use a RotoZip for this because it's small and maneuverable and will cut through almost anything) and went after it like Freddy Kruger on a bad night. I basically followed Dan Master's cuts but went a little deeper so I could slide the motor back further. Here's a shot of the Payr plastic block. If you ever have to do motor fitting, this is definitely the way to go. I know most people cringe at the cost but even if I had to buy (which I didn't) it would be well worth the $300 in terms of ease of use. I've had the thing in and out a dozen times to check things.


Here's the "after" shot. I'm going to need to take the driver's side cut a little deeper in the 'cheek' area next to the transmission tunnel in order to comfortably clear the ear on the 302 bellhousing. Other than that, I need to do some flat file work to clean up the edges and then a hammer and dolly to straighten things up before I fabricate the replacement panels. Sure looks weird with two big holes in the body. Sorry for the fuzzy shot. Had the camera on automatic focus and it must have latched on to something closer to the finder than the new holes.


Motor sits back in the bay and will give me about 10" to the radiator supports. I need the extra room to clear the drive mandrel for the dry sump. Will also be making the Dan Masters modification to the front cross member so I can fit the radiator and cooling fan in. Yippee! More fun with tools! I haven't tried the exhaust manifolds yet but, if the Snively picture is accurate, the Tiger exhaust should clear the frame rails without any cutting. I'll be bolting them up over the next day or two so stay tuned to see if this is all going to work out.


Cyclone motor mounts are NOT going to least not from a bolt 'em on point of view. Going to need to fabricate some attachment points for the frame but may stick with the Cyclone mounts because I have them on hand. Have also looked at the adjustable mounts from Ron Morris Performance but they only slide 3 1/2 inches and I'm going to need about 5" to make this work. Ah well, a boy can dream can't he?

To all of those who have PMed me with words of encouragement, "thanks". I appreciate the sentiments. Nice to know there are folks out there with an interest. As a post script, I fit the right rear fender over the weekend so the rear clip is roughed into place. Gives me a good idea of what's in store for me in the way of glass and body work. No shortage of things to do.

Cheers to all...

8/23 - Was able to finally get the cuts in the foot boxes correct. Sure seemed a lot easier when I was looking at some else's pictures. Ah well, in any case, driver's side took a little more time to ensure the T-5 bell housing would clear. Also found I needed to cut away and re-fabricate the top of the tunnel where the heater plenum goes. I need to keep the motor as far back as I can due to the additional length from the drive sump drive mandrel and pulley - a full 14" is needed from the face of the block to the front of the radiator. The Sawzall has been getting quite a workout. Here's the clearance shot. Looks closer than it is. There's about 9/16" between the bell housing and the top of the tunnel. Hoping with the new polyurethane mounts, there's not much motor rock under acceleration.


This shot shows the two new panels in place. I cut out the top of the tunnel and got rid of the curve, then fabricated a new piece that comes up at about 45 degrees. Small inset on the driver's footbox makes room for the ear of the T-5 housing. Pictures don't look that great but the panels actually are straight and clean. Metal work was installed using 3M structural panel adhesive and countersunk steel rivets space every 1 1/4 inch. Pics don't really show the countersink well but I used a set of dimpling pliers on the new panel and on the existing panel to create the countersink. A little tedious, but works well. I'm expecting some commentary on my use of adhesive and rivets instead of welding but if they can put race cars together with this stuff, it ought to be strong enough for these two panels. Once the seam sealer and undercoating goes on, should look pretty decent.


Now that I know the motor will fit correctly it's on to fabricating some mounts and bolting it in. In the next episode I'll be installing the old Cyclone mounts For position only), fitting the Tiger exhaust manifolds (looks like they'll clear, but we'll know for sure soon), then planning the layout for the oil breather tank (needed for my dry sump), the coolant overflow tank, power steering remote reservoir, windshield washer bottle, ignition box, and remote oil filter mount. It's going to be pretty crowded in the engine bay. Stock pedal box is going to fit just fine (already test fit) but I need to locate a place for the clutch remote reservoir (using Willwood for this). Before any of this can be done, I need to mount up the x-member and fit the new power steering rack. Thinking that a small place of frame may be giving it's all to create clearance for the steering box. Current plan is to run the steering shafts up along the driver's wheel well (similar to a Factory Five Cobra replica), through a shaft bearing, then down to the column. Busy, busy busy. Immediate goal is to get the modifications to the tub complete, get it cleaned up and coated in rust inhibitor , then prime and paint so I can be bolting some parts in/on by mid-September or so.

8/30 - In the words of the immortal Robert Preston (The Music Man), "We got trouble. We got trouble right here in River City." Plans to use the Tiger manifolds is in the tank. Driver's side fits like it was made for it but the passenger side is just too close to the frame to be able to clear the motor mount and still fit the down pipe. Had thought about notching the frame but am not excited about modifying it behind the motor, ahead, yes, but behind, not so much. I contacted Ted Lathrop about his block huggers but, before I drop $800 on a set of headers (I know they're truly worth it), I'm going to experiment with some other ideas.

On a more positive note, the footbox mods are coming along nicely and I expect to wrap them up sometime next week. I'm off my schedule a bit but still plan to have the tub in paint before the end of the month. That way, I'll be able to work through the winter bolting things up and getting ready for body work and paint in the spring. I ordered the new radiator - a three-row, heavy duty Mustang version meant to convert an early car to a 302. It's only 18 1/2" wide so it will fit between the existing mounts. Depth is around 20" so there won't be any clearance issues underneath. The cooler's arrival means it's time to pick up the Sawzall again and get after the forward cross piece so I can back the radiator all of the way to the support.

Sorry for the lack of pics but there's not much to see this time (unless you count my failed Tiger manifold experiment). I was using the Snively car as my guide but clearly, the pics don't tell the whole story. Going to go back and take a closer look as well as see if I can find some more shots of the original installation.

9/8 - New radiator arrived today. Three row piece intended for 302 swaps in early Mustangs. Core is only 1 1/2" thick. Width is under 19" at the tank so it will fit between the frame rails quite nicely. Distance to the edges of the mounting flanges is about 21 1/2" which is just enough to use the original radiator mounts after trimming the flange from the top of the frame rail down. Overall height is 20" which puts the bottom higher then the lowest part of the x-member and protected by the Sebring front valance. With three-rows it should offer enough to keep the new power plant cool. For most applications, the only mods needed would be to trim the mounting flange. For my purposes, I'll be cutting away the front cross piece all of the way to the vertical center brace so I can move the rad closer to the front and gain room for my dry sump mandrel drive (also need enough room for the shroud and fans). Still no final decision on solving the exhaust problem but am going to be looking at a set of stock early Mustang logs as a possibility.


Also sourced a set of wheel tubs at a hot rod place that should work nicely for the rear wheels. More on those when they arrive. Last but not least, located and MGC hood on e-bay (hoping I wasn't bidding against anyone here, hope I helped put some money in someone's pocket from here) so the last of the body parts has been sourced. Creeping slowly towards completing the acquisition list.

9/22 - This post is for the welding-challenged among us. What follows is really more of a desire on my part to try some newer technology but it's also true, I have absolutely zero welding skills and live in an area where moving the tub from place to place just ain't that easy. Without any further excuses...introducing my $15 metal brake made from some angle iron and a couple hinges I had hanging around. Total bend area is about 22" and it will easily bend mild steel up to .052 (the biggest I've tried). The WorkMate serves as both vise and stand (I really like when a tool can do more than one thing). After the laughter subsides, you can press on to the results of my adventure.


Here's my first (actually my second, the test piece lacked any sort of refinement whatsoever) pass using the brake to bend the passenger side patch panel. Oops! Let me back up. My no-weld experiment involves the use of automotive structural adhesive and countersunk rivets. Probably not something I'll do for the rocker repairs, but okay for this application. Bends were pretty simple but one or two were easier to make with a pair of panel grips. This is .040 mild steel.


Here's the hole that the panel is designed to fill.


And the panel in place, fastened, and sealed. Panel adhesive is a two-part catalytic variety made specifically for metal-to-metal applications and flows through a special 2-barrel caulking gun (borrowed from the local parts store). The stuff sets in about 20 minutes so there's not a lot of working time. You need to have everything in place and test fit prior to buttering your panel and going on to final install. After the panel was riveted in place (steel, countersunk rivets), I cleaned up any residue adhesive with some lacquer thinner and then used 3M seam sealer (nasty stuff) to keep the weather out of the edges.


Okay, so David, tell me what you really think of this process? Well, if you're welding impaired (I am) it's an alternative...but not much of one. I could have bent and installed several of these panels by welding in the time it took me to create all of the corners, test fit everything and make sure my panel gaps were nil, drill the holes, countersink the rivets and then finish the install. It's also not an inexpensive way to attach panels. The structural adhesive is $40 a shot (in fairness, there's enough to do everything I need and then some), the gun rental (another $30), the rivets, and the seam sealer. With welding, you have your equipment, some gas, and some rod. Bottom line, welding is cheaper and faster (if you have the equipment and skills). Would I do this again? Maybe. I learned a ton, have always wanted to see if I could fabricate a cheap brake and, in the end, it worked as planned. I'll probably use this method to finish the driver's side patch panel as well as the front x-piece (remember, I'm moving my radiator forward) if for no other reason than to use up my adhesive and seam seal supplies. After that, I'm on to buying a small welding unit or calling up the local mobile welding guy and see if I can convince him to take pity on me and save me from further experiments. So, if time isn't a consideration, you don't or won't weld, you might want to give this a go. All you need are some hand tools and some patience.

The fun just never stops, does it?

10/18 - Been a little while since I've posted any progress but then, it's been a little while since I've made any. Business and home have been at the top of the list for the past few weeks and left little time for the "B" project. That said, was able to spend the better part of the day in the garage and took care of a few of the modifications that needed to be accomplished in order to fit the dry sump motor in. Here's a shot of the modified front x-member. Essentially, trimmed it back to the vertical brace then bent a new piece of steel and installed it using the same no-weld technique as the foot boxes. This gives me another 1 1/2" or so to accommodate the drive mandrel.


Next came the rubber bumper modifications that entailed cutting off the ends of the frame rails where the old bumper attached. I'll fill these in with some steel later this week then seal them up with some seam sealer to keep the weather out. Moss Motor's instructions were spot on for this operation.


Lastly, here's a shot of the finished foot boxes and the tunnel modification, all sealed up and ready for undercoating before I hit the bay with primer and paint. As you can see, I've scoured off the surface rust and straightened out any bent panels. Still have some repairs to make to the lip that goes around the hood opening but am hoping to get to those during the week. The back side (cockpit side) is particular bad and will need to be replaced all the way across.


That's all for this week. Not looking too good as far as getting the tub in paint before I run out of weather but may consider having my painter friend pick it up and do the honors for me so I can still spend the winter months fitting up the suspension and dropping the motor in. We'll see how it goes.

'Til next time...

11/1 - Well, it's "next time" and first picture is of my new prize...MGC bonnet (fiberglass of course). Picked this up off E-bay for a fair price. I've been going back and forth between the real deal in aluminum or the glass version. After Morspeed stopped taking orders for the fiber versions, I thought I was going to be committed to spending the $1400 on the alloy version, then this one showed up.


Okay, enough eye candy. Let's get on to the good stuff. Finally found some time to finish prepping the engine bay so it could be primed and painted with the hope of being able to have the tub ready in the next few weeks to be begin installing the front suspension, finish the rocker repairs and the like. This first shot shows the completed footbox modifications after they've been sealed and undercoated.


Next I sanded down the inner aprons and all of the engine bay sheet metal to scuff the existing paint, remove any rust, etc. I then repaired a rusted out section along the top rail, modified the ends of the frame rails (remember, rubber bumper car), then sprayed the whole thing with some rust encapsulator to stop the rot and get things ready for primer. Here's the end caps after they've been installed and sealed.


The next two shots are of the tub in primer, then paint. I've elected to not paint the engine bay in the car color but went with a semi-gloss black instead. No real reason, just going for something different.


I still need to replace the rail at the back of the bay and finish fitting my radiator overflow tube. After that I'll bend new brackets and install the radiator, bend a bracket and mount the power steering reservoir (yes Virgina, I'm going to have PS), mount the ignition box and washer fluid reservoir then see if I can find a good location for the oil sump breather. It's going to be crowded in there.

Hope you enjoy the new shots. More to come later.

11/15 - This is actually two weeks worth of progress. I was just too lazy to post last week but all is well - wasn't that much to see anyway. Oil breather for the dry sump fit nicely on the passenger side bulkhead, starter relay is close to the starter and the battery line run from the rear, new washer bottle location gives me room to install the ignition box on top of the passenger footbox, remote oil filter will use 90º fittings to help clear the radiator support. Location of the filter is friendly to the rest of the dry sump plumbing.


Here's some detail on the new radiator brackets and the P/S reservoir mount.


Lastly, here's a shot of the radiator temporarily mounted on the new brackets (still need to buy the new mounting hardware) and the overflow tank mounted (less the lower bracket). I'll be fabricating some sheet metal ducting to help protect the lower radiator as well as channel cool air. It will also give me some additional support. Next bits and pieces to go in will be the brake and clutch reservoir bracket and the freshened heater box. But that's another story...


Hope to be in a position to finish up the sill repairs and fit the cross member and new steering rack over Thanksgiving holiday. I may be trying to do some paint work to the inside of the passenger and driver footwells over the next week or so. Cheers to all...

1/5/10 - Wow! It's been a while since I last posted. Not much progress made. Been busy trying to keep the basics covered. I haven't been completely sedentary though. Here's some evidence. Rebuilt the power booster and replaced the master and clutch cylinders with new Wilwood units. The brake unit fit right in but the clutch unit (at least the one I bought) needed to have the hole in the pedal box enlarged ever so slightly and the push rod needed to be shortened and rethreaded. Mounting the remote reservoirs meant bending and mounting a new bracket but I like the result. Good thing I had the benefit of the plastic engine block to be able to make sure everything would fit.


The heater box and motor also got a make over. Stripped it down to it's parts, made sure everything was working correctly, repainted everything, then built it back up and hit it with some new decals. The picture makes it look a little grainy but I'll tell you the heater looks brandy new.


As you can probably see from the brake shot, it's finally become winter up here so work on the "B" will have to move indoors until we get some breaks in the weather. There's still lots to due in terms of refurbishing parts, bagging and tagging everything, etc. The front suspension may be the next major assembly to get some attention. It's still light enough that I can carry it down to the basement. Getting it back upstairs after completing the rebuild may be another story. But that's what they make friends for, eh? Hope to be back adding to the project journal sooner than last time. Stay warm...

6/7 - Wow! Seems like ages since I've posted. Oh yeah, it HAS been ages. I've actually had a few requests for updates (thanks to those who are following this build) so I broke down this afternoon and took a few pics of recent progress. A lot has gone on since last winter. Unfortunately, not much of it has to do with the car. But that's another story. Now, on to the business at hand.

The entire tub was sanded, rust areas repaired/replaced - including sections in both floor pans near the firewall, undercoated with a sound deadener, prepped then shot with dark grey speckle trunk paint. It doesn't show up very well in the shots (flash) but it's very clean looking. Entire tub was then overshot with three coats of urethane, satin clear to make for a very durable surface. There won't be in any carpets in this ride, just snap race floor mats for the front. Some small touches that may go unnoticed are the fabrication of cover panels for the access areas in the rear quarters (normally covered by the trim panel and the rubber sill covers. Boy, were those a pain to get right. Suffice to say, it took several passes before I finally got an acceptable result. Oh yeah, the roll bar is in (but coming back out) just to check fit then going out to have a diagonal brace welded in.


Ran the oil lines from the trunk to the front (remember, this is a dry sump) and held them down with line separators. Very much going on for race car chic here, so it seems to fit. New fuse panel will go on the passenger side kick panel. Not sure what I'm going to do for tunes in this car, maybe none.


New washer bag and master cylinders are hooked up. Fabbed the washer bracket as nothing was available new/used. Still need to run hard lines on the cylinders but at least the reservoirs are plumbed for now.


Really wanted a metal dash like the early cars but couldn't seem to find one at a price I could live with so I decided to improvise by stripping down my current dash - removing all of the covering, foam, and incidental metal parts. I'll repair the rusted section and fix the lower contours as well as fill in a few of the holes (going to relocate a few things). Then hit it with a skim coat of body filler, sand, prime, and shoot it with black wrinkle paint. Sort of old meets new.


Here's a shot of the new pedal assemblies, the rebuilt handbrake, and wiper assembly. That's all I have for right now. Next will be to complete the dash overhaul, rebuild the rocker panels (big undertaking), and start tubbing the rear end. Lots left to do but am hoping to have it on the ground before this winter sets in.


That's it for now. I'm going to try and be more dilligent about keeping the photo records up but some of this stuff is pretty tedious and I really don't think it's worth posting. One thing I forgot to mention was that the dry sump breather tank was moved inboard (at least the tank part). The fitting and breather are still in the open but moving it will make sure it doesn't get in the way of any motor parts. Talk to you all later...

6/20 - My Father's Day gift was some serious one-on-one time in the garage with the project. Sometimes the sweetest gifts are the ones that don't cost a thing. What a difference in the amount of progress you can make when you get to spend more than hour at a time doing something. As promised in my previous post, I went ahead and plumbed in the proportioning valve except for the line to the front brakes (which I hope to plumb sometime this week). Bending the lines was quite an adventure - lots of lefts and rights but somehow managed to get things lined up.


Something I banged out last week was the dead pedal. I looked into several of the available off-the-shelf varieties but was frankly appalled at how expensive they were for such a simple thing. So, with plenty of sheet stock on hand and a little bit of time, I fabricated this piece in about an hour and half (including installation.


I also took the time to finish up the heater/defroster plumbing. This area took much more time than I thought it would owing to having to clean and repaint every part. The ignition box is a tight fit, but it fits and that's what's important. You can also see the early style cover plate for the defroster elbows. Much fun was had drilling the holes for the four attaching screws. Everything under the dash has been rebuilt and refinished, then reinstalled with new hardware.


Okay, purists should avert your eyes for these next shots. If you remember in one of my earlier installments, I was on a quest to find an early metal dash but gave up due to the expense. I'm not cheap but the idea of spending $400-$500 on something other than go-fast parts left me a little disappointed. So I did what any good hot rodder would, I improvised. It started by stripping all of the foam and vinyl off my '78 dash, then drilling out all of the underlying metal forms around the glove box, for the original dash light, etc. The following shots show the dash after I repaired and reshaped the area around the steering column and filled in under the glove box opening, blending it into the center. Very much reminds of the early 289 Cobra dash contours. After the repair work, some filler, a bit of primer/filler and a whole lot of elbow grease, I drilled holes for the dash mounted ignition switch, starter button, AC plug, and an early style dash mounted map light and switch. Existing holes will be filled as follows: top left - headlights, under that - fog lamps, to the left will be the dash light rheostat (as in the original). Instrument cluster and '78 series warning lamps all remain the same. To the right of the cluster in the top position will be the wiper switch (TR6 variety), to the right of that the washer switch (Lucas part), and under that the heater fan switch. Ignition and starter switches are under the cluster. Defroster controls will fill the two round holes under the dash vents.


A few words about shooting wrinkle paint - it's harder than it looks. Took me a couple of times to get it the way I wanted but it looks amazingly close to the finish on the early MGB dashes. Exactly what I was looking for. One of the more challenging things to do was form a new glove box door. As most readers are aware, the late model dashes have a pretty health curve on each end which made forming the door an interesting adventure. In the end, some judicious use of my body hammer and the anvil area on my vise got the job done. Here's the primered result leaning up against the partially finished dash. You can also see the eyebrow I fabricated for over the instrument cluster. After dealing with the light at night bouncing off the gauges in the Cobra, I thought this would be a good way to solve the problem.


Last here is a shot of the partially assembled dash. Gauges will be SunPro which, as some of you old schoolers will remember, were very popular in the 60s and 70s. They also happen to fit right in the existing 2" holes. How handy.


That's it for this installment of "How the B Turns". Stay tuned next to find out how the throttle pedal install goes. I'll also be fabricating a scuff plate for the throttle pedal (remember, no carpets), sanding, priming, and painting the cowl area (so I can install the new dash) and rough mounting the new fuse box and wiring bundles. See you around the garage.

9/12 - Where to begin? Well, the build has taken a few detours in recent months to accommodate my available time and money. That's meant a focus on the cabin area for which I had everything I needed - seats, wiring, dash, windshield (including rebuilding it), etc. So to bring folks up to day: sanded and painted the cowl area, installed the wipers, washers, vent, installed the dash and glove box door, installed the instruments and switches I have on hand, began to run the wiring, installed the accelerator pedal, built seat brackets and installed my new vintage race seats, fabricated and installed Tripps devices (seatbelt guides), finished plumbing the brake valve, fabricated and installed the fuse box cover, fabricated the new center console, and a few other odds and ends that needed cleaning up.


Here are another few shots of the windshield and dash area.


This gives you an idea of the Tripps device. Still to come is the forward leg for the roll bar which will pass on the left of the passenger seat just skirting the e-brake handle. Also need to mount the Halon bottle on the tunnel top between the seats. Seat belts (Crow, y-type) are on the way.


That's about it for now. I'm out to the garage to finish up the console, get the scuff plate cut out and mounted, and finish up the wiring for the headlights, park lamps, fog lights, and turn signals. See you down the road...

12/5 - Been a while since I've posted but most of the work being done has been wiring...not all that exciting to see. The dash wiring is near complete save for the tach (on the way this week), I've found time to take care of some niggling things - completed the forward leg on the roll bar and completed installing it (padding too), replaced the temporary screws on the passenger footrest and driver's dead pedal with rivets, finished the center console, that sort of thing. Also installed my Crow 4-point harnesses (y-type). Sweet! They fit exactly the way the were supposed to (that doesn't happen too often on one of these builds). Really like the two-inch belts (SFI, IMSA SCCA approved) as I kind of a small guy and the three-inch belts just cut me wrong.


Love the fit of the vintage seats but I may be re-engineering my seat risers to lower the whole affair a bit. While I like the fit and level, my head is only about two inches from the roll bar and, even though it's padded, doesn't seem like it would feel too swell to bang the back of my head on it. Another inch should do the trick.

Steering column, turn signal mechanism, Halon bottle (and mount), speedo, tach, and some other odds and ends are on the way (this week I hope). Also decided to sell off my Sebring wings and go with a set from the folks at SpridgeTech. After stewing about it for a quite a while, I finally decided the work needed on the fronts to make them fit the roadster was just going to be more than I wanted to deal with. In any case, they're sold so I'm committed to the new ones. Have also purchase the necessary parts to begin the fabrication of the adjustable upper a-arms and hope to have something to show in the course of the next three or four weeks. After that, it's the 5-lug hubs, new rotors, hats and calipers. Hubs are going out for machine work next week, my new mobile welder friend is coming over next weekend to help with the new a-arm cross bar mounting. Should be fun. Once I have it together and know it works, I'll share the parts list and "how to". Probably not as convenient as buying everything put together from Guzman, but I'm having fun figuring it all out.

See out on the road (next year I hope)...

1/8/11 - Oh wow! I'm starting to have to put the year after my date entries. Sigh...ah, well. Here's the latest progress. Steering column, turn signal assembly, steering wheel, tach, speedo, and fire extinguisher are all in. In addition, I lowered the driver's seat (going to lower the passenger side as well). Column is a 1 3/4" x 28" straight race column with a quick release from Speedway Motors. I worked over a VW turn signal assembly (milled out the inside to fit the column, 'bent' the signal arm to reduce the 3" VW offset and fit the dish of my wheel) to fit the wheel. Horn is on the end of the stalk, headlight dimmer will be floor mount.


Also test fit the new tach and speedo - both Autometer Cobra gauges. I still need to tape off the glass and paint the trim ring to match the Sun gauges but they fit well and the look is very similar. Check out the 180mph reverse rotation! Picked them for the nostalgia and because they are very similar in look to my Sun instruments. It's also nice that the shift light will just plug in to the tach.

Here's the lowered driver's seat. Still need to do the same to the passenger side but, overall, it just feels better and now the back of my head won't bang off the roll top of the roll bar. Fire extinguisher isn't anything special - Halon. Decide not to go with the full on supression system, partly for the expense, partly because it wouldn't have been in a race car of this vintage (at least that's how I justified it).


That's it for now. My new SpridgeTech body parts are shipping out this Wednesday. With any luck they'll arrive before the weekend. Big excitement.

2/6/11 - Hard to believe with all of the snow we've had that the temperature is in the 30's but that's how it goes. I took advantage of the warmer temps and my new best friend (Toyostove kerosene heater kindly donated to the cause by a friend) to get some things done. There's a lot going on underneath all the new parts so I'm just going to hit the highlight reel tonight. First, the parts by Spridgetech are super light and fit perfectly, making the initial fit-up a real breeze. After bolting them on, the real work started with shimming them to get the hood and fender levels at least in the ballpark. Took a little doing, but I got it down after my second try. Still need to shim some more in a few places (the black writing on the tops of the fenders are the additional shims I need) but things are very acceptable for a 'first' fit. I wanted to keep my Sebring front valance which meant it needed some, ahem, adjustment to compensate for the extra 8" width in the new front end. In addition, I wanted to replicate the LeMans valances with driving lamps and center oil cooler screen. That meant not only adding the 8" but cutting holes for the back mount driving lamps as well as for the cooler opening. I opted to beat out a piece of aluminum to use as a backer until I can glass things in a little later. It gives me something very close to the correct shape and will make the finish work easier.


This was originally a rubber bumper car I needed to bend a filler piece to close the gap between the valance and the radiator tray. Imagine my complete surprise when I discovered that the left and right sides of the car didn't line up the same - the right being about 1/4" further forward than the left. Fortunately had I only bent the back flange before marking the front. I still need fabricate some small edges for the ends of the valance (they'll be glassed in) to create a smooth transition to the new fenders. Also mounted the turn lamps (yes, I know I have the lenses flipped) and installed the headlight buckets - both for test fits.

The back fenders are nothing short of remarkable in terms of fit. I opted to keep my original Sebring rear valance (Spridgetech offers their own version) as it was a simple thing to trim the ends and fit it up.


There's still quite a bit of fabrication that needs to be done - new front splash panels need to be patterned and cut, the inner fender stiffener/support needs to be bolted up and glassed to the inside of the fender, trim panels need to be made for the front bulkhead where the door hinges go, mesh grill (same as on LeMans cars), driving lamp mounts need to be fabricated (lamps should be here this week) and a host of other small stuff but it is finally starting to look like something.

Well, half time is over so I'm headed back to the "Big Game". All in all, a very successful weekend.

2/20/11 - I celebrated our recent spate of warmer weather up here in the great white Northeast by making a concerted effort to get in the garage and forge ahead with the various "to do" items on my list. When I last left you, I had installed and shimmed the front fenders, fabricated and installed an extension for the radiator opening, and split the Sebring valance in half so I could widen it by the needed 8 inches. This included cutting the holes for the driving lamps as well as the oil cooler opening. Here's the list of new stuff:

* Installed the headlamp covers, something a little harder than I though it would be.
* Fabricated the scoops for the brake ducts. This was a nearly half day process for me - hand tools no machines - but they came out exactly like the ones I have seen in images of the LeMans cars.
* Installed the leather bonnet strap
* Fabricated the mounts for my old stock, back-mounted Lucas driving lamps which were kindly sold to me by a gentleman in Canada for the price of a pair of reproductions.
* Fabricated and temporarily riveted the screen for the oil cooler opening.
* Installed the driving lamps


All that's left is to fab the grill screen (have a shell to start with) and the two little wings at the ends of the valance (to help blend in to the fender lines) then glass in the valance. After that I need to fabricate new inner fender wings as well as forward door jam metal to meet the increased contour of the new fenders. I'm hoping to keep after this and have these remaining items completed by next weekend.

'Till later...

It appears I have run of room on this thread, so here's the link to the continuation - []

5/28 - I know this post will disappoint some who have been following this build but, with the amount of traffic my two threads have been receiving, I feel obligated to explain my relative absence.

Without offense to Curtis (I think this is a great site) I really wanted to have the ability to have people post comments to my build thread (alas, that's not a function that's enabled here) as well as consolidate a ton of car material I've accumulated over the years. Like others who hang out here, I have the capability of putting up and maintaining my own web sites and, while I don't have any aspirations whatsoever about launching a competitive site, I wanted to have greater control over my content. It was also getting a bit much to try and keep up with this site, MGE and a couple of others I frequent. Creating my own site, simplifies the whole process for me and, while I acknowledge that it might narrow access to my build thread, I guess that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

I'll continue to post here from time to time but if you'd like regular updates on the 'B'east, please feel free to visit []. Leave a comment if you like and, I promise, I'll try to keep things up over here as my time allows. Thanks to all who have kept up with my progress and I sincerely hope you continue to do so.



Edited 56 time(s). Last edit at 05/29/2012 09:48AM by DC Townsend.

Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4578 posts)

10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

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Re: '79 B with Ford 302 Dry Sump- Part I
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Date: April 21, 2015 02:20AM


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