Go Brit Baby! - Tech Sessions
The Project Car
You see ads for MG project cars listed all the time. These MGs are just waiting for a new caring owner to come along to bring them back to life. They range from basket cases to cars in pretty good condition but just haven’t been driven in years. The previous owner may have given up, lost interest, or needed that precious garage space back.
Although this project MG hasn’t been the subject of an official CMGC tech session yet, I thought I would relate a recent case of another MG being brought back from a long hibernation and what it took to get it running. This information might be helpful for anyone thinking of taking the project plunge.
The subject car is a 1977 MGB roadster. As the story goes, the second owner bought the car in southern California in 1978 and then ended up moving to Arizona. Hey, I like this story already as the desert provides a nice dry environment for a MG. The B was a weekend driver until 1988 and 55,000 miles. He then bought a T-bird and the MGB sat in the garage for 10 years.
The car was then given to his son 3 years ago. The son brought the car back to Illinois, hopeful to someday restore the car to running condition. After 3 years though and no time, the son finally sells the car to new club member Leonard Casario. The son confirmed that the engine was still free and not frozen. So, Leonard thought he was in good shape for trying to get a 13-year dormant engine started.
The first time I saw the car I was amazed how rust free this original car was. The cockpit floors and trunk floor look brand new. The interior is in good condition and the dash is not even cracked, as one would expect from the hot Arizona sun. The green paint has a few garage rash scratches and what appears to be over spray that the new owner believes may buff out. Also included is a brand new top still in the box, a nice tonneau and boot cover.
We were pleasantly surprised to find an original ignition key still attached in the engine compartment. MG hid a spare key in the Bs’ engine compartment, however, I believe few of them survive today. Owners take them out and end up using them as a primary key or losing them.
Time to see if we could get this nice project running. Paul Urquhart came along to help with this process. First, we drained all the fluids and flushed the radiator. We then added oil/filter and put water back into the radiator after putting on a new belt and hoses. Second, new plugs were gapped and replaced and the points were gapped. Third, we gave the dual carbs (car had already been converted from the stock Zenith) a thorough cleaning and replaced the fuel filter and fuel lines. After sitting 13 years there was some real nasty fuel gunk in the bottom of the float bowls.
Then we added a new battery and put some new fuel in the tank. Even though the tank was empty we should probably have pulled the gas tank and flushed it out. But at this point we were all excited to fire this baby up. Leonard turned the key just enough to hear the fuel pump go and we flushed about a quart of fuel through the gas lines before it went into the carbs. Leonard excitedly noted that the radio was working.
We’re all pretty pumped at this point and wanted to fire that engine. So, we reconnect the gas line and Leonard turns the key…nothing…again…nothing. At this point the new owner is disgusted and Paul and I are a bit puzzled but figure it’s probably something to do with the starter. I climb under the car as Paul studies the wiring diagram. Well, we find one broken wire and one wire in the wrong place on the starter.
We make the necessary repairs and try again. The car cranks just great and the oil pressure is good but the car still isn’t starting. It wants to run when you put starter fluid in it but won’t run on its own. Now I’m perplexed, as everything seems to be in place for this car to run. Fortunately, Paul studies the carbs some more and notices that the forward carb jet seems frozen. So he pulls it out and cleans it up. We try again and…victory. The car is running although it is backfiring out the carbs somewhat.
So, after about 3 hours the car is running. We take a lunch break and come back to adjust the valves and tune the carbs. The car is now running beautifully through a range of rpms with no smoke in sight. What a great feeling.
Leonard spent $500 for the MGB and another $60 or so for the battery, hoses, belt , and such. $560 total for a running, rust free MGB! Next on the agenda will be to go through all the hydraulics and brakes to bring this Brit Baby back on the road.
All right everyone sitting on the project fence, grab a car and bring another MG back from the brink. It can be a fun and satisfying experience.
Do you have a tranny that is chattering or has a bad syncro? We will be having a Transmission Rebuild Tech Session on Saturday, July 14th at 9 a.m. in St. Charles, IL. One MGA transmission and a MGB overdrive tranny. Take the mystery out of your transmission and attend this informative tech session. Feel free to contact me for more information.