Wednesday, 9 October 1996

Wheels make the Ride

I returned from my vacation in Australia and promptly got insurance back on the B so I could drive it.  It always amazes me the sense of freedom and exhilaration you get from driving an MGB down a windy mountain road.  One thing I noticed when I got back though was that the tires sure liked to squeal on some of those turns.  I guess its time to get some new tires...

If I was going to replace the tires, I needed to repaint the rims.  I took off the wheels and got the tires removed from the rims at the local gas station.  Some planning was required to paint the old rims, and some parts were needed.  An order into Moss for the Rostyle paint shield was made, and a trip to the local body shop supply store was done.  The guy at the supply store used the old rim to match the paint and make up a couple spray bombs.  One for the silver and one for the black.  After I had all my supplies in order, time to sand blast the old rims.

I took off all the weights and sandblasted the old rims with a portable sandblaster using play sand.  Worked fairly well except that the compressor couldn't put out quite enough air to keep the sandblaster nozzle from getting plugged.  Took a full day but managed to get all of the old paint off.  Primed the rims and they were ready for paint.

I painted the rims using the Moss supplied Rostyle mask with ok results.  The mask didnt do a perfect job, but managed to keep the paint in roughly the right spots.  I had to go back with a fine brush to touch up the spots that were missed.  Overall, it was worth the purchase, just dont expect it to do all of the work for you.

Once the rims were painted it was time for new tires.  I went with a lower profile tire than what is recommended for the car (175/70R14) and bought some Toyo 185/60R14s.  I knew the speedometer would be out but I wanted to improve my 0-60 time.  I purchased the new tires from OK Tire in Calgary and had them install and balance the tires on my freshly painted rims.

Once the new rims and tires were installed on the car it not only improved handling but made the car look so much better!  Slow but sure, that car is turning its life around!

Update:  The MG Experience has a really good review of MG tire sizes, http://www.mgexp.com/article/tire-sizes.html

Sunday, 23 June 1996

MGB parked - Down Under

I had the MGB top replaced with the Original Style vinyl top from Moss.  The top looked fantastic and had fewer holes in it than the last one.  When I had the car in to get the new top put on I had the mechanic do an inspection of the car and tell me what was wrong with it.  For the most part the car was in pretty good shape and there was very little rust on it.  I had rebuilt the motor, replaced the interior, top and rebuilt the front suspension.  What it really needed was some new paint.  

I got an estimate to complete the paint job, and it was going to cost me about $3500 to get it done right.  I decided that money would be better spent going on a trip, so I parked the MG back in my Grandmas garage and headed out for Australia.  The MG was going to have to wait.

Thursday, 23 May 1996

New Top for the MGB

By 1996 I had owned the MG for 3 years.  I had rebuilt the motor with the help of my friend, replaced the rotting interior, and installed new carpets.  I decided it was time to get a new top.  I priced the tops out and decided to go with the Original style economy model from Moss.  Fergus from British Auto Specialists in Calgary was all set to do the installation.

The car had been stored in my Grandmas garage for the winter, so I needed to get insurance on it for the drive up to Fergus'.  I phoned the insurance company and got the insurance put on for one day.  I figured I didnt need a license plate as it was a short trip, so I borrowed the plate off my truck.

As I was travelling along 16th Avenue it occurred to me that it was rush hour.  I hadn't planned for that so needed to make a quick detour up to 22nd ave.  As I was trying to figure out where I could turn, I ran smack into the back of a Mini Van.  I was ok, and so was the lady driving the van, but the MG front bumper had been bent, not to mention the back of the minivan.  The crash was hard enough to trigger the safety fuel switch and the engine quit.  Had I known how easy it was to reset the switch, I wouldnt have called for AMA to tow the car to the shop!  

The police made it to the accident scene and charged me with a few things, but at least I had the insurance!  Driving without insurance in Alberta is a $2500 fine, it could have been a whole lot more expensive.  I phoned the insurance company and was put through to the same person who had just talked to me about 30 minutes earlier.  She was astonished, and told me she had never heard of this happening.  Lucky me!

I rode in the tow truck up to the Mechanic, MG in tow and helped them push the car into the yard.   They all had a good chuckle at my expense and then set to ripping off the old roof.

2 days later I got a call from Fergus to come and pick up the car, the roof was done.  He had also decided to have a look at the brakes and done a complete service on them.  Probably a pretty good idea.

I left work early and took the bus up to the MG shop and saw my car sitting out front.  The new top looked fantastic!  The car was really starting to come together, what really didnt fit into the picture now was those old worn out wheels.

Wednesday, 8 February 1995

Interior DIY

During the Winter of 94-95 I stripped the interior and replaced it. I had parked the car in my Grandmas garage and this allowed me to work throughout the winter on it. My grandma didn't seem to mind much as I always had time for a chat over some tea.

Prior to me purchasing the MGB it had been stored outside for years and the result of having a torn roof, the interior pretty much disintegrated. Not to mention the foul odor. So I set to taking the old carpet, door panels, and seats out of the car.

The seats came out first, and I made sure to take a few pictures of how the seat rails went together. There is a spacer underneath the seat rail that you have to make sure goes in the same way as it came out. I didn't have the cash to redo the seats, I figured that it was leather or nothing. So, I scrubbed the seats as best I could with vinyl cleaner and plenty of elbow grease. Then I took the seat covers off of my 77 Mini 998 and put them on until I could afford leather.

Once the seats were out, the door panels were next. The door panels sit overtop of the carpet in a few places so you need to get the panels out before removing the carpet. The panels come out with a flathead and philips screwdriver. I took out all of the screws in the panels, there are even a couple in the armrests. Then I used the flat screwdriver to pry the door panels off. Once all of the panels were off, I ripped up the carpet.

The amount of effort you will need to use to get the carpets up is directly proportional to the amount of glue used. In my case, sun and rain had pretty much dissolved most of the carpet, not to mention the glue. The carpet came out with the greatest of ease.

I took all the interior bits, except for the seats, and took them directly to the trash bin. The smell immediately improved.

Lucky for me, the floor panels were in pretty good condition. There was very little rust and only surface at that. I scraped them as best I could and vacummed out the dust with a shop vac. A coating of anti rust and some paint and it looked as good as new!

I ordered new carpets and trim kit from the local MG shop. I went with Autumn Leaf for the interior, the original had been pee yellow. The carpet came with some pretty good instructions and I managed the effort on my own. The contact cement was crazy stuff, once it touches there is no getting it apart without tearing the carpet. So make sure you line it up and chalk it before adding the glue. The nice thing about the glue is that it allows you to put the carpet in around curved surfaces, like the rear wheel wells. Try and start at one edge and work your way across the surface, if you get a fold in it there is no way you will get it out.

Once the carpets were in it was time to install the interior trim. Once again the instructions provided with the interior kit were pretty good. Except for one funny horshoe shaped piece, I managed to get them all in. In turns out the horshoe bit goes behind the radio, I elected to leave it out.

Once I had the carpet and interior trim installed I could return the seats. The seat covers really didnt look all that great, especially with my nice new interior, but for now they would have to do. I cleaned and armoralled the interior dash and center console and the car looked fantastic.

Next, a new roof to protect that investment on the interior!

Monday, 5 September 1994

MGB Top Down, highway one to Lake Louise

Finally, after 2 years I could enjoy the car. I drove that MGB Roadster just about every day that summer. What a blast to drive, you get such a different perspective of your trip when you have the roof down. And once you get on those windy mountain roads, the car is just so much fun.

By summers end I had a whole bunch of memories and a list of improvements. The repairs would have to get done over the winter. The winters here are way to cold for the MG, and there is too much salt on the roads. I would have to park it in a garage, and a heated one preferably. I asked my Grandmother if I could park it in her garage and she obliged. I think she enjoyed the company, as I always had time for tea.

Monday, 15 August 1994

MGB Engine installed back in the car.

It was my final year at school and one of my toughest. My weekends home were spent with family and friends between bouts of homework. I didn't get a chance to work on the MG until after graduation. The motor and the transmission were waiting to go back in the car having been rebuilt earlier.

With the help of my Pops and brother we put the motor and transmission together in Dads garage. Once they were together we hoisted it up with the block and tackle in Pops garage. Now for the car, we pushed it into the garage with the help of a neighbor and set about lowering the drive train back into the car. We spent the weekend getting the car ready to go for the official start.


I kept an eye on all the gauges when we started the car and was quite concerned that there was no oil pressure. A test of the oil pressure gauge with some compressed air determined the the gauge was not faulty. So, we took off the oil pan and had a look at the oil pump. Sure enough, we had used the wrong oil gasket on the oil pump. Just my luck, this was the one and only part of the engine rebuild that my friend and I had done, without the help of his Dad and brother in Edmonton.

I went to the local MG mechanic and got the proper gasket. We put it in the engine the following weekend and it started; with oil pressure.

Thursday, 30 September 1993

MGB Front End In


One weekend home from school I picked up all the parts for the front end and started putting it back together. I cleaned and painted all the front end parts individually, including sandblasting and painting the 1969 cross member. I rented a spring compressor from the local auto parts store and put the springs back in. Once the cross member was rebuilt, I put it back in the car.

Things were running smoothly, until I determined the steering column was too long! Because I was fitting the car with a 1969 front end cross member to lower the car ride height, the steering column would no longer fit. Another delay. I managed to take apart the steering assembly before I had to head back to school.

Pops took the steering column into the local machine shop for me, with the new dimensions. They ended up shortening the shaft by removing a section out of the middle of the shaft.

Another weekend home and we put the steering assembly back together and in the car. Pops had manufactured a couple of steering column adjusters out of a design in the MGB Workshop manual and they worked great. We managed to setup the steering without any problems. Now, the engine.