MG Sports Cars

engine swaps and other performance upgrades, plus "factory" and Costello V8s

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mgb260
Jim Nichols
Sequim,WA
(2241 posts)

Registered:
02/29/2008 08:29PM

Main British Car:
1973 MGB roadster 260 Ford V8

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: mgb260
Date: January 28, 2022 02:32AM

Most use a drop base and shorter air filter. Carl, RB crossmember has the one inch spacers that lift the body up and creates an inch more hood clearance.


MGBV8
Carl Floyd
Kingsport, TN
(4286 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 11:32PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: MGBV8
Date: January 28, 2022 09:58AM

Well, on most conversions, the engine goes up with the body. ;) If not using an engine mount that fastens to that crossmember, anyway.

In my case, I can't lower the engine to use that extra inch under the oil pan because my block hugger headers are already right there on the steering shaft. Time for RV8 headers, I know. I just can't bring my self to cut up the fender wells.

Point is that switching crossmembers does not make an extra inch of clearance appear above the air cleaner automatically. Of course, you know that. Some others reading the above may not.

In Gary's case, that engine looks to be as low as it will go. A CB crossmember would have to be cut even more to keep it where it is.

BTW, I have both crossmembers, the RB on my car & Mike Moor's old CB one has been laying on my garage floor for a bunch o' years.


BlownMGB-V8
Jim Blackwood
9406 Gunpowder Rd., Florence, KY 41042
(6218 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 12:59PM

Main British Car:
1971 MGB Blown,Injected,Intercooled Buick 340/AA80E/JagIRS

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: BlownMGB-V8
Date: January 28, 2022 11:48AM

Your car is low enough without the CB crossmember.

Jim


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: February 22, 2022 11:15PM

I think Jim and Carl have explained my crossmember clearance issues well. The way I look at it, the notching of the crossmember sets the minimum level that the engine can sit. The 1" spacers increase the distance from the top of the notch to the bottom of the hood. So without these spacers my hood is 1" closer to the crossmember than RB vehicles.

I have had a busy couple of weeks both in and out of the garage since my last post. My Dad and I drove down to Chatham to meet Graham Creswick to purchase his cowl induction hood and get a tour of his very nicely put together 302 conversion. Thanks again for all the information and advice!

I will be continuing with my use of the chrome bumper crossmember and will use Graham's cowl induction hood to deal with my air cleaner clearance issues. After placing the engine in the car, I used a 2x4 block of wood to prop up the tail shaft on the rear crossmember, and let the oil pan sit on the crossmember with a thick piece of rubber to provide clearance.

I wanted to use the stock mounting location for the transmission crossmember, so I cut off the old mounts and bottom of it to allow the T5 mounting bolts to pass through. I plan to weld in a new flate plate in the bottom once I finalize my engine mounts up front. Here's a photo of how I removed some material on the front and back of the crossmember and then hammered the lip down to clear both the T5 on the front as well as the actual T5 mount at the rear.
Photo 34 - Transmission Crossmember Mod2.jpg

With the transmission roughly in the right place, I turned to the front engine mounts. Using advice from Graham and Martyn, I welded 3/4" spacers on the drivers side mount. This lowers the actual motor mount away from the engine and allows the steering column to pass just underneath/behind it. I also had to cut away some of the steel of the motor mount and the rubber isolating material to create the pathway for the steering shaft. Again, something I would have never figured out if it weren't for the help of the people on this forum.
Photo 35 - Drivers Side Motor Mount.jpg
I also had to cut the bolts that protrude through the engine mount rubber/steel back a little bit to keep them from hitting the frame rails. Doesn't give me much more room that what is needed for a nut and lockwasher...maybe even just some locktite.

With the engine in place and leveled, I used some cardboard to mock up some engine mounting plates, and then transferred them to steel.
Photo 36 - Mounting Plate 1st Attempt.jpg

I then attached them to the motor mounts, attached the mounts to the engine, snugged the steel up to the frame rail, tightened the nut to secure it and then tacked them in place. The first attempt was a bit underwhelming. The gap between the frame rail and the mount was more than I would be comfortable filling with weld, and there was next to no room for a gusset on the front side of the drivers mount.
Photo 37 - Mounting Plate 1st Attempt Tacked.jpg

I wasn't happy with these and thought I could do better, so I tried again...


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: February 22, 2022 11:35PM

I cut off plates off the rails and then cut the hole into a slot. This would allow me to install and remove them quickly without having to remove the engine mounts.
Photo 38 - Mounting Plate 1st Attempt Slotted.jpg

Using the steel as templates, I slowly trimmed and cut away until I felt I had the contour and angles right. I then transferred the new shape to new steel and refab'd the engine mounting plates. I drilled two non-intersecting holes in the plate and then used a jig saw to cut out the remaining material to make a fairly tidy oval. I was happy with the results.
Photo 39 - Mounting Plate 2nd Attempt Holed.jpg

So with the new plates fabricated, I repeated the process of attaching them to the motor mounts, attaching the motor mounts to the engine, leveling the engine, positioning the plate so that is was flush with the frame rail, securing it with the motor mount nut, and then tacking in place. I then detached the motor mounts from the engine before pulling the engine and transmission, and finally removing the crossmember to allow ease of access to finish the gussets and welding.
Photo 40 - Mounting Plates 2nd Attempt Tacked.jpg

I'm very pleased with the results and am feeling like I am almost over a pretty difficult hump in the build process. I recognize I have a TON of work ahead, but having the engine mounts in (even just tacked) feels like a major milestone for me. Planning my steps ahead heres what I will work on next:

1. Finish motor mount gussets, and final welding
2. Finish fabrication of transmission crossmember
3. Fabricate new mounts for the steering rack***

Number 3 has me most concerned. I've done some measuring off my existing RB crossmember and see that I am bang on in terms of distance from the crossmember to where the rack will sit. But the alignment is something I'm not sure how to handle. I plan to get the rack in place, align it with the steering wheel shaft, and then weld in the mounts and let an alignment shop sort out the shims, etc.

Anyone have advice for how to tackle that part to minimize steering/suspension issues I might be creating?

Thanks again everyone,

-Gary


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 07, 2022 09:48PM

Well winter, spring, and summer flew by. I had hoped to have more frequent updates, but here is a summary of my progress.

As laid out above, I finished gusseting and welding in the frame rail motor mounts.
Photo 41 - Gussetted Motor Mounts.jpg

I then moved on to further modifying the transmission crossmember. The factory position of the crossmember didn't really line up with the trans mount. Instead of adding new holes and captive nuts to the MGB frame rails, or adding wings to the crossmember, I opted to extend the centre of the crossmember backwards to accept the trans mount. I used an old piece of 90degree bed frame rail that I had lying around. I thought it turned out pretty good.
Photo 42 - Modified Transmission Crossmember.jpg



After that fabrication effort, I turned to some smaller jobs like rebuilding the steering column. There was a "rough spot" in the steering where it felt like it was being held up. The steering was also very clangy and when I took it apart I realized the collapsible portion of the column was in two pieces. The MG Exp forum had a great article on using hot glue to re-set these pieces, which I did along with repacking the ball bearings in the bottom bearing.
Photo 43 - Steering Column Rebuild.jpg

With the T5 transmission and engine in place, I was able to approximate where the gear shift would come through. It looks to be a bit further forward than the MGB 4 Speed, so drilled a couple of new holes and tack welded some captive nuts from below in the transmission tunnel. This will allow me to move the shifter boot slightly forward and after modifying the actual gear shift lever, it should be exactly where it needs to be. I will have to also modify the steel piece that bolts to the trans tunnel to move the hole slightly forward.
Photo 44 - Trans Tunnel Mods.jpg



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/08/2022 07:57AM by gstock.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 08, 2022 09:07AM

I bought some RV8 style headers from Pete Mantell and using the gear shift cover as an oval template, cut out the approximate locations for the fenders in the fender well.
Photo 45 - Fender Well Cut Outs.jpg

I had my front spindles rebuilt by a local mechanic and then I sandblasted and painted all of the front suspension components in preparation for rebuilding.
Photo 46 - Refinished Suspension.jpg

With the crossmember an inch higher, I knew that I would need to change the angle and the length of the steering shaft. I marked, cut, and tack welded the shaft together. My intention is to fully weld the shafts together, grind clean, and then sleeve a piece of steel tubing over for a belt and suspenders approach.
Photo 47 - Cut and Tacked Steering Shaft.jpg

To aid in aligning the steering shaft to the steering column, I drew up a couple of cones in SketchUp and then had them 3D printed at the local library. It took a couple tries and in the end Martyn Harvey loaned me a pair of real ones, but it was a neat way to get familiar with 3D printing. I might use this again later if I need to make some parts first. Maybe 3D print some brake caliper adapters before having them machined.
Photo 48 - Steering Alignment Cones.jpg

With the suspension buttoned back up, I was ready to position the steering rack between the harmonic balancer and oil pan (where mostly everyone else with a 302 has their rack), and fabricate some new steering mounts. Once those were fabricated, I would move on to checking the position by measuring bump steer.



BlownMGB-V8
Jim Blackwood
9406 Gunpowder Rd., Florence, KY 41042
(6218 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 12:59PM

Main British Car:
1971 MGB Blown,Injected,Intercooled Buick 340/AA80E/JagIRS

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: BlownMGB-V8
Date: September 08, 2022 09:27AM

The problem with putting a sleeve over the pinion shaft is that now the only way to disassemble the rack is to cut the pinion shaft below the sleeve. A better approach is to cut a deep chamfer where the ends meet and fill that with weld then grind or turn off the excess. Some straightening will be required.

Jim


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 08, 2022 12:01PM

Thanks Jim. Thats a very good point. I hadn't thought about maintenance on the pinion. I guess I could still consider a sleeve with pins or bolts, but realistically, if I don't trust my welds, I probably shouldn't be building a V8 MGB!

I had a dial indicator showing about 15thousands of run out on the pinon while rotating it, so know that I will need some straightening. I'll have to grind each of my tacks away, bevel/chamfer and reweld. Do you have any recommendations on straightening? I don't have oxy acetylene in my garage so heating to straighten could be a challenge.


BlownMGB-V8
Jim Blackwood
9406 Gunpowder Rd., Florence, KY 41042
(6218 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 12:59PM

Main British Car:
1971 MGB Blown,Injected,Intercooled Buick 340/AA80E/JagIRS

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: BlownMGB-V8
Date: September 08, 2022 12:52PM

I use a hydraulic press. Takes a little practice to compensate for the flex but definitely works. Anything that allows you to bend it can work, even a couple pieces of pipe.

Provided you get good penetration the welds don't have to be pretty. There isn't normally a lot of stress on the shaft. The main thing is getting good centering and alignment. You can do that with a chunk of angle iron and some clamps. Do a heavy tack then weld the opposite side and check for straightness. If you straighten as you go along the final job will be easier. If your welds break you probably need more heat. Stick welding works well for this job.

Jim


Jim Stabe
Jim Stabe
San Diego, Ca
(818 posts)

Registered:
02/28/2009 10:01AM

Main British Car:
1966 MGB Roadster 350 LT1 Chevy

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: Jim Stabe
Date: September 09, 2022 12:31PM

If you drill a large hole in the apex of the angle iron, it will allow you to spin the shaft and clear the welds as you rotate it. With an assistant to do the rotating, you can get a weld that looks machine done.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 09, 2022 10:17PM

I positioned the rack between the balancer and oil pan, as close to the lip of the oil pan as possible while considering there will be some sag in the motor mounts over time. I used a jack and some blocks of wood to hold the steering rack in place and leveled it. I fabricated some narrow rack mounting plates, bolted them to the steering rack and then tacked in some angled gussets to create new steering rack mounts.
Photo 49 - Temp Steering Rack Install.jpg

I was pretty happy with the results. I test fitted the hood and it looked like I had loads of room between the top of the air cleaner and the nice new cowl hood that I bought from Graham.
Photo 50 - Clearance Under Hood.jpg

To check that I had positioned the steering rack correctly, I set up a bump steer test using a laser level and some tape against the back of the garage wall. I positioned a jack under the suspension and moved the lower control arm from fully compressed to fully extended. I didn't have the spring installed to make this process easier. In the end, I had somewhere close to 2degrees of bump steer, which I understood was far too much.
Photo 51 - Bump Steer Check.jpg

I wasn't sure where I had gone wrong. Again, I had some challenges with this build because I didn't have the original steeiring rack mounts to guide my engine placement. I needed to get some reference measurements to understand what changes I would need to make Lucky for me, the next weekend was the Ancaster British Car Show & Swap. I toured the parking lot and found a fellow MGB owner who let me take measurements of their chrome bumper suspension. I checked the angle between the track rods and lower control arm and found it to be around 1.5degrees. I understand that for minimal bump steer the track rods and the lower control arm should be parallel. So this was my goal, to at least mimic the original steering geometry.
Photo 52 - Suspension Measure.jpg

While under the car, I also measured the distance between the steering rack and the bottom of the crossmember and found my steering rack to be sitting a half inch too low!!! I couldn't believe this. After all this work, the engine was actually too low and was causing the steering rack to sit too low relative to the control arms.

It was at this point that I was regretting not listening to the advice of starting with an unmodified RB crossmember...



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/09/2022 10:35PM by gstock.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 09, 2022 10:24PM

So to correct the steering geometry I knew that I had to raise the steering rack. I did this in two parts:

First, I increased the size of my spacers between the engine and the engine mounts. I went wrong somewhere in my initial measurements and had to add 1/4" spacers. So I increased these to 1/2" spacers.
Photo 57 - New Spacers.jpg

Second, I ground down the lip of the oil pan where the main crank seal is. I don't have a photo of this, but these two modifications allowed me to raise the steering rack up and position it slightly higher than the stock location, hopefully solving a bit of the MGB bump steer issues that I've read about.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 09, 2022 10:34PM

With the engine a 1/4" higher, I was having trouble fitting the air cleaner under the cowl. To solve this, I needed to modify the base. I knew I could cut down the lip that sits on top of the carb, but there were two fasteners on the carb that would foul on the air cleaner. I figured I could dimple these areas to allow the base to sit as low as possible.

First I positioned the carb on the car, and positioned the laser level so that its beam crossed overtop of the fasteners. I then installed the air cleaner base and marked the base where the laser indicated the centre of the fasteners. I did the same thing in horizontal direction to determine the two locations.
Photo 52- Air Cleaner Base Marking.jpg

I then used a vice and two sockets to produce the dimples. I sandwiched the base between the two sockets, with the smaller socket on one side to push the steel and the larger socket on the other to reinforce around the dimple. I clamped the vice down and produced a couple of decent dimples where the fasteners would be able to sit under.
Photo 54 - Dimpling Base.jpg

Finally, I simply used a dremel with a cutoff wheel to remove as much of the lip as I could.
Photo 55 - Shortening Base.jpg

Again, I was happy with the final result, where the base could sit as low as possible without interfering with the carb operation.
Photo 56 - Base Fitted Low.jpg

I recognize this isn't ideal for air flow and that drop bases or configurations where there is not a lot of space between the cleaner and the carb can result in loss of power, but I was feeling a bit stuck. So this was my solution.


gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 09, 2022 10:47PM

I put everything back together and checked my clearances. It was looking about right. I had a decent amount of space between the oil pan and the crossmember to allow for any sagging that might occur over time and the air cleaner had space under the cowl still.
Photo 58 - Final Clearances.jpg

So with that problem solved, I was feeling pretty good and thought, now I just need to finish my steering rack welds, strip and paint the crossmember, and back in the car it goes and on to the next step. I set up my welding bench and had my old RB crossmember next to the new modified CB crossmember and realized something was missing...
Photo 59 - Cross Member Issues.jpg

I had no bump stop mounts! It was at this point that I REALLY wish I had taken the advice of staring with a non modified RB crossmember. But I was so far in and was looking forward to the lower front end. So I decided to forge ahead and fabricate new bump stop mounts. Luckily I had not sold my RB crossmember, so set up my newly rebuild shocks on the old crossmember and measured the angle where the shock would touch the bump stop upper tab mount.
Photo 60 - Shock Measure.jpg

I recreated this tab on the modified CB crossmember, welded it at the same angle, and then added the lower bump stop flanges around the perimeter of the top shock mount. Its not exactly the same as the original, so the aluminum spacers that fit between the upper and lower bump stop tabs wont fit. This isn't a big deal. I plan to fabricate a couple of aluminum cylinders instead of one large aluminum block between the two tabs. They will be custom and hopefully don't need replacing very often.
Photo 61 - New Bump Stops.jpg

So with that, I was finally ready to strip and paint the crossmember, spindles, shocks, etc.



gstock
Gareth Stock
Hamilton, Ontario
(26 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2015 05:22PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Ford 5.0L

Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: gstock
Date: September 09, 2022 10:56PM

I stripped and painted the crossmember:
Photo 62 - Painted Suspension.jpg

Installed all the freshly painted components back onto the car along with new bearings, rotors, etc. My main concern here circled in red is the proximity of the brake line to the exhaust header. Does everyone re-route their brake lines away from the exhaust header? Should I be concerned about this or am I being overly cautious?
Photo 63 - Installed Suspension with Question.jpg

Unfortunately, even with all the fiddling I had done, the steering rack angle isn't perfect. I hadn't torqued the crossmember to frame rail bolts fully when I did my tack welding, so when I did it at the final assembly stage (maybe final is a bit optimistic) the angle of the crossmember and all the suspension must have changed slightly. Again, not a huge deal, I'll need to fabricate some shims for the steering rack just as the factory had done.

But there you have it, a rolling chassis.
Photo 64 - Rolling Chassy.jpg

I had hoped to be at this point at the beginning of spring, not fall, however had a lot of hiccups. I'll be taking a break for the fall to focus on some other projects. When I come back to it in the fall, I'll be focusing on rewiring the whole car. I hadn't planned on this but when working under the dash found a ton of wires that had no insulation left on them.

Thanks again for all the advice everyone.

-Gareth



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/09/2022 11:02PM by gstock.


ex-tyke
Graham Creswick
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
(1156 posts)

Registered:
10/25/2007 11:17AM

Main British Car:
1976 MGB Ford 302

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: ex-tyke
Date: September 10, 2022 12:56PM

Quote:
My main concern here circled in red is the proximity of the brake line to the exhaust header. Does everyone re-route their brake lines away from the exhaust header?

Here’s a shot of my header to brake line clearance. I actually modified/shortened the anchor lug to provide a bit more clearance.
Heat/issues/problems have been non-existent.

Exhheader to strg arm.jpg



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/10/2022 12:58PM by ex-tyke.


MGBV8
Carl Floyd
Kingsport, TN
(4286 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 11:32PM

Main British Car:
1979 MGB Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: 1979 MGB 5.0L Ford Conversion
Posted by: MGBV8
Date: September 12, 2022 09:55AM

In Graham's pic, the ceramic coated header may help keep the upper part of the brake line from getting hot.
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