My dream was to get a TF in good condition so that I could restore it with mainly mechanical fixes. However, one fateful day my wife's cousin rang and offered me a 1967 B, 95 % restored to concourse standard. This was his 13th restoration and he was tired of working, he's 70.. My immediate reaction was --- “No way, I want a TF”---. Upon reflection this B became very attractive for several reasons, like:- most of the hard work should have been done, needing only some trim fitted, a new hood and the engine tuned. B's were also much further advanced, technically, than TF's and the price asked, I thought, was exceedingly cheap.
This B arrived on a trailer in mid January and was pushed into a convenient garage, which was not co-located with my workshop, across the back yard.. It would only be a short while before I got it started and could drive it to my workshop. It is now May and it is still in its “temporary” garage.
Shortly after its arrival, I sat in the cockpit and started playing with the various controls and found that the heat control was stiff and didn't go from end to end, ditto for the heater air control. I also found that to operate the choke required both feet on the dash and two hands on the knob to pull it out. Investigation showed that the heater control cables were installed in such a way so that the inner was bent at about 30 degrees where it emerged from the outer. I bought new choke cables from the local parts store, cut off the ends and fitted them correctly. Nice smooth operation. The choke was a bit more insidious. Not having had any experience with twin SU's I didn't really know what to look for. There they were; the carbs, a heat shield, three springs and cables and so on. The were 3 springs fitted, 2 on the choke and one on the throttle. From my deep dark memory of SU's ( I had three English cars in my youth, with single SU's) I couldn't remember any springs on the choke. Disconnecting these springs suddenly made the choke much easier to use. I also decided that only one spring on the throttle wasn't enough, much too soft for my lead foot. Relocating the springs to their correct connection points everything suddenly was much better to use.
As an aside, whilst entangled under the dash my impression of the B was “ How agricultural”, then I remembered that it was 40 years old, almost a veteran and typical of the standard cars were built to at that time.
Having sorted out these minor problems, I was ready to start it. Turned on the ignition and was rewarded by the steady ticking of the fuel pump. The steady ticking of the fuel pump. The steady ticking of the fuel pump. Hey it should have filled the carbs by now! Brainwave – maybe it needs petrol in the tank. Go to the local servo and bring home 4 litres of petrol, which I immediately went to pour into the tank. Problem: can't get the filler cap off. The bumper overrider is in the way. Swear curse. Well the bumper needs to be moved over. Loosen the bolts and try to shift it, no go. Do an indepth inspection and find that the bumper is as far as the slot in the bracket will allow. OK, need to file the slot out a bit. Remove the bumper and bracket, cross the yard to the workshop and file out about 6mm. Go back and refit. Still no go. Repeat and file some more. Still no go. Repeat several more times without success. The penny drops, I've been filing the slot in the direction the bumper needs to move – wrong! I need to file it in the opposite direction, to allow the bumper to move the needed way. Eventually I managed to move the bumper out of the way of the filler cap and poured the petrol in. Turned on the ignition and was rewarded by the steady ticking of the fuel pump. The steady ticking of the fuel pump. The steady ticking of the fuel pump. Bugger! What's wrong now. Started trouble shooting and eventually discovered that there was suction at the carbs. That can't be right it should be pressure. Crawl under the rear of the car to inspect the fuel pump and its connections. Decided that the inlet and outlet were reversed. With much contortion ( of myself ) and fiddling and bending of fuel pipes I managed to change the pipes over. I now had petrol delivery to the carbs. The pump ran for a short while then slowed and stopped, as it should.
Whacko I thought. Turned the switch to the start position and wonder of wonders it STARTED. Great. I sat and watched the tacho and oil pressure gauges come up to sensible readings. Wanted to give the engine a “blip” with the accelerator, but it went straight to the floor. I had disconnected it when I was trying to sort out the choke springs (remember I'm no spring chicken any more and I sometimes forget things ). So I got out of the cockpit and meant to blip the engine directly at the carbs. Horror, shock, grief oil is squirting out all over the engine bay. A mad dive for the off key. Oil all over the floor, much to SWMBO's disgust. After using a goodly portion of my rags to clean up the mess I had to find the cause. It turns out that the oil filter canister was slightly skew whiff and not sealing on its gasket. Fixed this up. ( a young friend of my daughter's had arrived and was intensely interested in my doings), topped up the engine oil and went to start it again. The young friend was eagerly leaning over the engine with rapt attention when it started. He raised a loud yell “ Turn it off, oil is squirting everywhere”. Another “Bugger!”. After cleaning up the mess with my dwindling supply of rags he showed me that it was squirting out of the hose connecting the engine to the oil pressure line on the body. That was the end of trying to run the engine that day.
What to do now? Well let's check the oil levels in the gearbox, diff and steering rack. All empty. Go and buy the appropriate oils and start filling
The gearbox first. Knock up a stand with a bottle on it to slowly run oil into it. Works OK, but VERY slow. By trying to increase the speed of the drip I unknowingly pulled the tube out of the gearbox and wound up with about a litre of oil in the passenger well, all through the carpet. Many words worse than Bugger. Out with the seat and carpets and into the laundry to spend hours and lots of detergent to wash the oil out. I think I succeeded, though there is still a slight oily smell in the carpet. Now back to filling the gearbox. LIVE with the slowness of the drip. To keep going forward I decided to fill the steering rack with oil, using an oil pump. Ten minutes after filling it oil started dripping out of the rubber boots. You guessed it - another few choice words and more mess on the floor. Have to go and replenish my rag supply by cutting up some old sheets ( with SWMBO's permission, of course ).
Now to disconnect the tie rod ends to remove the old boots – well the tie rod ends were dry, with cracked rubbers, so new ones were bought , actually holden ones – exactly the same.
Now I had to purchase two new boots, a hose to connect the engine to the oil pressure line, and also a speedo cable, which wasn't supplied.
Next weekend:- fit the hose and boots, top up engine again, fill the steering rack. All seems OK. Lets try starting.
Beaut it started at once. Now to tune the carbs and try to set the timing. Cough cough splutter – die. Bugger is becoming a very common word now, well not really, other words are becoming more common, burning the neighbours ears. After several more attempts with the same result I pulled the spark plugs. 1 & 4 are black, 2 & 3 are wet – Ah hah too much petrol, strip the carbys and check everything. Apart from being unsure about the float levels ( older carbys with replacement plastic floats and NO INFO AVAILABLE on this combo ). Anyway after several frustrating hours it turns out that the fuel pump won't restart after stalling. Another few words worse than bugger. Out with the pump, at which point I discover that it was in upside down, which explains why the inlet and outlet were reversed. Mess around with the contacts and diaphram and seem to get it working OK pumping petrol around and around from a tin and back. Reinstall it the correct way up and unbend all the lovely bends I had previously concocted when I reversed the inlet and outlet.
At this point a slight diversion entered, oil was dripping out of the front of the diff- remember I had to fill it. Disconnect the drive shaft and jam it up into the battery box so its out of the way. Easily undo the nut holding the input flange, which was supposed to be done up to 135 foot lbs. Remove the flange and two things become apparent:- the oil seal is shot, brittle as anything, also the part of the flange that the seal runs on has a big groove. Purchase a new seal and a stainless steel sleeve to fix the groove and reassemble.
Now the brain starts to think ( ice pack required to stop it overheating ) that if the diff seal is brittle, what about the rear axle seals – better check them. Off with the wheels, rear brake drums and there are the axle nuts, bigger than any spanner I have. OK measure across the flats (1 15/16 or 50 mm ). Cool, whip down to my favourite spare parts outlet and enquire about a socket to suit. All my christmas's come at once, yes they have a 50 mm socket and what's more they are on a clearance special – half price $37 insread of $78.
Rush home to remove those pesky nuts. You guessed it, another bugger situation. The socket slips on the nut. Try several other ways but it still slips. Some more swearing and cursing. Whilst busy pulling out a few of my remaining hairs I notice that the nut actually looks a bit funny. Its an OCTAGON not a hexnut. No wonder my super special socket didn't work. Well down to the local metal outlet to buy a piece of 1/4” plate and then look up the internet on how to construct an octagon. Begin drilling small holes around the outline and when done to hammer out the centre with a cold chisel, then file the corrugations reasonably flat. It fits nicely on the nut and with a bit of persuasion the nut comes off. Extract the axles and find out that the seals are actually OK, but one of the bearings has a bit of cogging, so replace both bearings and seals.
About this time a mate gives me the DVD set of “An MG is Born” wherein it is recommended that one check the slop of the spider gears in the diff, and correct if excessive to stop clunks. Shall I? NO too much bother, but then I have the axles out and its only a few nuts to remove the diff. What the hell, let's do it. Lying on my back with my nose almost squashed by a floor panel, I manage to wiggle the 300 kg diff out past the battery boxes. Crawl out from under the car, drag the diff after me and head for the workshop to check it out. Oh sh_t! The axle that the spider gears run on is just about to fall out, its retaining pin has sheared. Oh well a modified four inch nail will fix this. Now test the slop of the gears and decide its excessive. Out with the axle and gears to discover that the case hardening of the axle and the inside bearing of the gears are all shot.
To be continued …