Just a Simple Wrench
by Ann & Jake Snyder
We have often found that our daily driver MGBs are a compromise between what we want and what is practical. The Main Point of having a daily driver is that it be driven daily, and this requirement often results in compromises when approaching a project.
But, being summer time, or at least not a snow-ice-salt season, we had our other car, a summer daily driver only, available to add a little flexibility to a project for the year-round car. The '73 GT is the designated continuous driver, and the gearbox had reached the point where it would drop out of overdrive after the oil became warm. This amounted to having overdrive available through the winter months, but only intermittently during the rest of the year. Fortunately, we had purchased one of the exceedingly rare 5-speed gearboxes built by Mr. Ken Costello, and we had carefully preserved it against this day of need for about a decade. Our '73 GT has very little rust and has the supercharged engine that makes using the Costello gearbox with its enormous torque capacity a wise improvement project.
The only way we know to get a late model overdrive gearbox out of the car is to remove the engine, either first or still attached to the gearbox. After we did this, we could not help but notice that the original 30-year-old paint in the engine bay looked a little dull compared to the recently maintained finish on the outside of the car. But the only way to do a nice job on the engine bay is to remove everything-all the wires, all the hydraulic lines and everything else. This immediately defeats the status of a daily driver, because taking all this stuff out and putting it in again can consume several months of after-work and weekend time.
However, there was a compromise, once again. The wiring loom did not have to be completely removed and the hydraulics did not have to be disconnected. All we had to do was loosen up enough of the components to be able to move the main body of the loom and the hydraulics away from the car in order to spray under them. Basically, the loom and pedal box were wrapped in plastic while engine bay was cleaned, primed and top-coated. We also pulled the heater box, and refitting it was not much of a chore because we kept the old gaskets rather than fit new ones.
After rolling the wiring loom into a coil, both it and the pedal box were wrapped and suspended from a lawn rake handle that spanned the engine bay. There were a few minor places that were shadowed and that had to be hand painted, but most of the engine bay was simply sprayed.
The finishing sequence required a lot of effort to get rid of the oil from three decades of assorted fluid leaks. We scrubbed the engine bay several times with Simple Green and toothbrushes, and then we wet-sanded through 400 grit. Just to make certain the paint stayed on, we used PPG two-part epoxy primer (DP50LF with DP402LF epoxy catalyst), followed by acrylic enamel with hardener. (Both these finishes can give the same symptoms in a few hours exposure as smoking a carton of cigarettes a day for twenty years: we used a fresh air mask from Eastwood to minimize the hazards).
The practical benefit of all this is that we got to inspect the motor mounts after removing the road debris and paint. The mounts on both sides were rust- and crack-free. And now we also have a very pretty engine bay that, thanks especially to the Glacier White paint, shows absolutely every spot of oil, every drop of fuel, every spill of hydraulic fluid and every spray of coolant. Maybe we got more than we wanted. But it is nice to look at when we check the oil.