Sunday, 13 December 2015

JT5 Box

This is why you fit a 5 speed box.  2000 rpm at 100 kph.


3.8 5speed

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Thursday, 05 November 2015

Slowly getting there

Ross is geting on with it. Maybe by Christmas..

4.2 repaint late01


4.2 repaint late02

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Sunday, 11 October 2015

MGA carbs

A day's work.


MGA carb1


MGA carb2

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Tuesday, 01 September 2015

Road registered



3.8 Strath

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Saturday, 25 July 2015


To those sensitive to marque specific detail I apologise. I suspect there's going to be a bit of this MG nonsense.

The MGA is coming along, but I have had to take a different approach to restoring it, which I have dubbed "Ronstoration".

Ron is one of the Jag Boys. He sold used cars for over 40 years. "Paint it black and put it back" sums up the caryard approach.

So today I took Rob's car up to Jaag Central and loaded it up with bits of MGA..

Rob RGK 462


MGA parts in Jag


Then when I got home I simply painted everything black.

Well not really. Actually yes I did but I did do other stuff..

I stripped and reassembled the steering rack. There is a miniscule bit of play in one of the tie rod end balls but it's tolerable. If this had been a Jag it'd have been a case of new steering rack. But it's the MGA, so it'll do, and I painted it black.



I stripped the brake calipers. A tiny bit of surface rust on the pistons but otherwise look good. Jag? New seals new pistons. MGA? Spray can.




Shock absorbers? I could have stripped then bead blasted all the bits, had the oil seals redone and reassembled them. But they seem to work and don't seem to leak so they got the Full Ronald (paint top and bottom as well). I even wire wheeled the filler bolts, which by the way are 1/4" Whitworth. I did draw the line at painting them with Silver Frost. But only just.





 Total cost today... zero.



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Saturday, 04 July 2015


Before his death in 2014 Marty Hawes decided his MGA needed pepping up. So in true style he decided to transplant a 1600 twin cam MX5 engine and gearbox into it.

He got about 75% of the way through but sadly never finished it.

Moving on 18 months the car was still in his shed in pieces. After some discussion the boys decided it would be a good thing to rebuild it, so it has been purchased and moved up to Jag Central. I don't think anyone but Marty actually believed that it would ever get road registration with the MX5 engine so we will put the original engine back in.

Chief engineer and I stripped the B series engine from it today. It's SO TINY!!!


MGA parts in van


MGA engine stripped


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Monday, 25 May 2015

Why having a car professionally restored costs so much.

The boys are doing a bare metal resto and LHD to RHD conversion on a S1 4.2 roadster owned by a friend of mine.

Today I bled the brakes, installed a battery hold down kit, attached a Moto Lita steering wheel to a new boss and installed the accelerator pedal box and connected it to the firewall linkage.

If all went well this should be less than 2 hours work. That's until poorly manufactured repro parts get into the mix.

I pressure bleed brakes with a syringe. Takes 10 minutes. But try as I might I could not get the front circuit to bleed. I tracked down the problem to the servo. Fluid would not go into the servo. I assumed that the piston was stuck, but no amount of tapping or pressurising it would get it to move. So I removed the new aftermarket servo and went to disassemble it. This is what I found: no hole (see inset).

Fockie servo


I replaced that servo with another one from stock; brakes fully bled 10 minutes later. My time wasted: 2 hours. My interruptions to the Chief Engineer: another hour.

The battery hold down kit came from another supplier. The top frame measures 260mm; about 15mm too long to fit. So I had to cut the frame, remove 15mm per side, MIG it back together, grind and file it smooth, repaint it and then fit it. In case you think that the panel beater has got the body wrong I had to do exactly the same thing with the last one I fitted as well. Having done it all before it only took about an extra hour. On to job number 3.

The boss cost nearly $AU200. For that you'd expect perfection. But no grub screws were provided to attach the horn push. The threaded holes were there but no tap I own fitted the thread; I suspect it was metric. I don't do metric. As I actually had some 3/16" UNC grub screws I just retapped the holes, but mucking about took me an extra half hour.

How hard can fitting the accelerator pedal be? Easy, but when fitted, the lever that connects to the linkage was sticking up at an odd angle and was far too close to the linkage pivot. A measurement on another car showed the arm clearing the firewall by 55mm. On this car it was closer to 100mm. Pedal box removed an disassembled it became clear that the locating bush brazed into the accelerator pedal had been fitted about 15 degrees off kilter. SO I had to cut the bush back with a Dremel to achieve the correct angle, then use a MIG to build up the other side, then grind and file the weld to fit. Another hour and a half wasted in head scratching and fettling a new, repro part.


Fockie pedal


In case you're wondering, all of these parts came from different suppliers; 2 in the UK one in the US and one locally. Today was an irritarting one, but with repro parts it keeps happening. And you are the one paying for all the extra hours to make things fit and work.


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Saturday, 23 May 2015

No spark

No spark.

Symptom: car won’t start or run at all.

NOTE: assumes NEGATIVE earth, points in distributor.

To Confirm: Put a plug tester in series with a plug. It should flash when engine is cranked. If no flash check other plug leads as well.  No flash = no spark.

If you do have a flash the problem is NOT spark per se, although it MAY be plugs. See 9.

Otherwise the problem may be timing, or fuel or compression. These steps will not help those things.

Take each step one at a time, in order. At the end of each step try to start the car.

Battery flat.

If the car cranks over it is almost certainly OK.

Engine earth.

Spark requires a good earth to the negative terminal of the battery. Check that the engine is earthed with an ohmmeter or voltmeter between the battery and the block.

Visually inspect the engine earth lead (LHS behind the reaction tie plate. If in doubt run a thick cable (jumper lead) from the battery negative terminal to the engine.

Check power to coil.

Remove the positive connector to the coil. Put a 12v test light in series and turn on the ignition. The light should come on and be steady.

Jiggle ignition key to eliminate switch fault.

If no power, run a wire directly from the positive battery terminal to the positive coil terminal and try ignition. If it works problem is between battery and positive terminal wire. Check fuse 7 and chase wiring with multimeter. Recheck ignition switch. NB starter button will not affect spark.

Check points are opening and distributor is turning.

You can do this visually. Remove dizzy cap and get someone to crank the engine. You should see the points open and close. Use a torch; it’s dark down there.

Put a 12v test light between the negative coil terminal and the black/white wire to the distributor. Crank the engine. The light should flash off and on as the points open and close. This should work with electronic ignition modules as well because what you are testing is the circuit through the points (mechanical or electronic) to earth.

Note:  the light may stay on or off when not cranking depending on whether the points stop closed (likely) or open (unlikely). This isn’t important.

Check the points gap (14 to 16 thou) and inspect the electrode faces for pitting. If any doubt replace points and reset gap. Even when you’re sure it’s not the points, suspect them. It’s always the points.

A dead condenser looks just like a good condenser.  Just replace it. They can be tested with an ohmmeter but if you put a new one in and it doesn’t fix the problem it probably isn’t the condenser.

Check the coil.

If the points are working and the condenser is OK. Get a spark plug and a plug lead. Connect the plug lead into the HT coil connector. Earth the plug by resting it next to a head nut. Turn on the ignition. Use a nonconductive (plastic) tool and open and close the points manually. (Alternatively you can connect a wire to the negative LV connector and tap this on an earth.)  There should be a spark on the plug each time the points open. If you have spark the coil is OK. Move on to 6.

If NO spark AND you are happy with 1-4 above, the coil may be faulty. Check the resistance of the low voltage (primary) circuit by connecting an ohmmeter to the two LV terminals. This should be between 0.5 (low resistance/sports coil) and 3.5 ohm (standard coil). Check the HT (secondary) circuit resistance by measuring between either LV terminal and the centre HT terminal. This should be in of the order of 5000 to 15000 ohm. Note that coil failure can be exacerbated by heat so even if it checks out cold it may be faulty hot.

Replace the coil anyway with a known good one. (You can just sit one next to the old one and connect the 3 wires to it).


Remove the coil HT lead.  Inspect for cracking or corrosion. Coolant can leak from the thermostat housing down onto the top of the cap and cause corrosion, especially with “screw in” contacts.

Check resistance with ohmmeter; it should be virtually zero with copper core wires.

Check the resistance of each of the plug leads by removing the plug cap and using a multimeter between the end of the wire and the corresponding contact inside the distributor cap. With copper core wire it should be virtually zero. If not check the cap socket for corrosion.

Modern cable resistance is more complex and you would need to check the figures with the manufacturer. As a general guide though a lead should be between 2000 and 8000 ohm.

Plug caps

The original plug caps have a carbon resistor in them. They will have a resistance somewhere between 5000 and 15000 ohm. Modern or reproduction caps should be spot on 5000 ohm. If you suspect the caps, replace or eliminate them. You can solder a ring connector onto a fine 1” self-tapping screw. Screw this into the lead in place of the plug cap. Use the ring connector to connect directly to the threaded end on the spark plug.

Spark plugs.

Remove the plugs. Check for fouling and check gaps. If no success, replace with new plugs.

Distributor cap

Inspect for cracks or corrosion. The cap really should look brand new inside. Clean up the lead connector sockets if at all corroded. The central contact for the rotor button should have a resistance of the order of 30000 ohm. If the cap looks OK still try replacing it with another one, or a known good cap and set of leads.

Rotor button

Inspect and replace if it looks worn, pitted, burnt or otherwise faulty. Try another one anyway if it looks OK.


Remove the distributor and carefully inspect it. Ensure that it wired correctly. Specifically check the insulators between the points and the coil and capacitor leads are in the correct place.

Check that that the coil lead is connected and conducts to the capacitor lead.

Check that the internal earth lead is connected to the distributor body and the centre plate.

Check that the distributor turns freely and is mechanically intact.

Check that there are no small screws or other foreign parts loose inside or causing a short.

Other things

If you have got here and not fixed the problem.

The checklist above is fairly complete. Sometimes though electrical components can look OK but be faulty. Replacing each component, one at a time, with a known good (not necessarily new) component will sometimes smoke out a mystery.

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Buy cheap parts and save!

Bought some cheap points from SimonBBS on Ebay and put them in my car about 500 miles ago. 

Car dies. In the bus lane on the freeway. In the cold.

Towed home.

Long and complicated saga getting it going but eventually noticed this:


The moving electrode is loose in the spring, so even though the point gap is perfect, the points don't open !You can't see this in the car...

Lesson; buy brand name parts.

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Friday, 24 April 2015

Exhaust studs

The way the E Type exhaust manifolds connect to the downpipes is poorly engineered. The mainfold has a threaded stud screwed into it. This thread is 3/8" UNF and the problem with the fine thread is that corrosion accelerated by heat means that the thread in the manifold fails. Then the stud strips and the exhaust leaks because it can't be tightened. Mine are full of bolts: 



I thought about a helicoil repair but this still leaves you with the delicate UNF thread.

I obtained some studs that have the standard UNF thread at one end but have a 7/16" UNC thread on the other. These are screw in rocker arm studs for short block Chevy V8 engines. Elgin part number was RD1920.

The holes needed to be drilled out and it is important that they are parallel. I made a small jig out of a piece of 1" angle iron so I could bolt the manifold to my pedestal drill.

The studs needed to be cut down 10mm on the coarse thread end to be a perfect fit. The fine threaded end is actually a little longer than the original stud. The minimum crush distance is about 0.65 " which I think will be small enough; if not I will run a thread die further down the stud.

The manifold I chose to do the first repair on was about the worst one I could find and I think it looks pretty good.











Exhaust studs


Inspired, I did another one, then cleaned them both up with a flap disc on an angle grinder and finally painted them.






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