Sunday, February 10, 2019

950 Miles And All Is Well

So far, so good after the fuel pump replacement.  I drove to work and back with no concerns, and I've been around, running errands and such.

I replaced my front brake pads (the rotors were fine) with EBC "Green Stuff" pads for a bit more bite on initial application.  I like the result.  The brakes have good feel and module well, and grip a bit more than before.

I did see the valve cover gasket was weeping a bit, so I changed it out with a silicone gasket made for my alloy valve cover.  I've detected no leaks (so far).

Nothing else has given me trouble--so "all is well" at 950 miles.
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Sunday, January 27, 2019

I Won't Get Fueled Again

Got the fuel pump last week.


I pulled the old pump and replaced with the new in all of 15 minutes.  It's so nice to work on new stuff.

Before I fired things back up, I also pulled the fuel tank and replaced the fuel sender gasket that was badly leaking.  (Actually, it was leaking quite well-I just didn't want it to any more.)  There was quite a bit of bubbled paint around the sender that I cleaned off and gave a shot of semi-gloss to cover before replacing the sender.  That was also pretty simple--the hardest part was dropping the half-full tank and draining most of the gas out to make it easier to reinstall.

Once everything was back together, she fired right up with a nice tunk-tunk-tunk sound and after bleeding the air out settled down to normal operation.  The new pump only ticks when fuel is needed, whereas before it would tick slowly even with the engine not running (indicating a slight internal leak).

An overnight test with a full tank proves that there are no leaks--no gas smell at all.

Once that was done, I also bled and adjusted the brakes with my daughter's help.  It was the first time she sat behind the wheel.  I should have taken a picture, but my hands were dirty with fuel and I like my phone to stay nice and clean.  I now have a high and firm pedal again after replacing the brake light pressure switch; no double-pump required.

I also did a quick checkup and everything's looking good.

Finally, I replaced one of the gears in the speedo that had cracked and caused an annoying blip in the needle.

A few drives on Sunday cleared any concern about the quality of the repair and my slight depression over not being able to drive Gidget.  Now I feel confident I can drive anywhere again.  I plan to drive her to work this week.
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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Fuel Pump (Near) Failure

I was on a joyride a few days ago.  I hadn't been able to drive Gidget for a few days due to weather, and I was getting antsy.  So, I warmed her up and went up to Lake Pleasant and back.

Well, I got back eventually.

On the way back, I was cruising at a nice 60 when all of a sudden she hiccuped.  Then, she coughed.  Next I knew, I was sputtering and slowing down.  I turned the key and she fired up--then died immediately.

I managed to pull over at a side street and roll back into the street (I was going uphill).  This was at about 8pm and a few miles from home, and I was flipping out a bit.  I feared the worst--some major ignition problem, and an embarrassing call and flatbed home.  Had I gotten over the hill, I probably could have coasted to within a mile of my house.  I wasn't going to push Gidget up hill--she's petite, but not that light!

After a couple of deep breaths, I started troubleshooting.  I didn't need much time.  I turned the key on, and instead of the reassuring 'ku-tunk ku-tunk ku-tunk' of the fuel pump, I heard...silence.

Hmmm.  Maybe I had a bad lead.  So I crawled under the car (no flashlight, though I have one in my kit) and felt around a bit.  The lead was intact.

Out of sheer frustration, I decided to employ the old "if it doesn't work, hit it with something" fix.  The something was my fist.  I gave the pump a few blows and I heard 'ku-tunk' followed by a lot of 'ku-tunks' as the pump filled the float bowls.

Amazed, I got back in the car, fired her up and drove home without incident (but with ample trepidation).

I figure the points got stuck or the mechanism is just worn out.  I had replaced the points--so maybe I messed it up.  I don't really care at this point.  We made it home.

I have a new electronic solid state pump on the way from Merry Olde England.  This pump uses a Hall sensor to detect if the "points" are "closed" and to fire the electromagnet that moves the pump diaphragm.  It's much more reliable and cost me only a few more shekels than an original points pump.  It comes from SU, so it is proper.  (For reference, it is AUF214EP).

So Gidget sits waiting in the garage under her CoverCraft security blanket (car cover) until I get the pump.  When I do, I will also drop the fuel tank and replace the sender gasket that leaks if I fill her up to the top.  I will also bleed the brakes--I changed the brake light switch to improve how quickly the brake lights activate, and there's a little air to get rid of.

As the Man in Black would say, "Sleep well, and dream of large women."
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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Holiday Driving

I had a couple of weeks off at the end of the year, and got to put some serious miles down.  For me, that was 223 miles over two weeks.  I'm up over 750 miles now.  I drove to Scottsdale from Peoria--twice--and once all the way on the 101 at 65-75.  I can keep up with highway traffic and Gidget is perfectly stable after a tire rebalance.  I topped out at 83 (per GPS) and boy oh boy what a rush.  That was "only" 4400 RPM.  I bet I could get over 90 if I were crazy.  I might end up going back in time.

I also finally fixed the clunking in the rear; it was a loose rear damper.  Now, no noises.  I do still have a teeny bit of tire rub that I'll play with when it warms up a bit.  Believe it or not, winter temperatures get down in the 30s in the Valley at night, 50s in the day; that's cold enough for me to not want to lay on the ground.

I did also break my spoiler a bit, but it's repairable with a little fiberglass mat and resin.  There's a 1/2" crack on the passenger's side where I bent it against the curb in front of my house.

I have a couple of developing oil leaks to address.  I might need a new oil pan gasket or just a good snugging down.  I did make and install a rubber seal for the steering rack pinion shaft that appears to have quieted that leak.  Everything else is holding up fine.

On the last day before my break was over, I got caught in a little rain shower.  I don't have the top fitted yet (it's a little too cold to stretch the vinyl) but the tonneau cover did its job by keeping half of the cockpit dry, just like I remember.  60 MPH was enough to keep the rain off and the sun visors worked as rain deflectors, too. :)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Well, a bit early...

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Better Distribution

I got my rebuilt distributor last week and installed it over the weekend.  Jeff at Advanced Distributors did a great job. He also recurved the advance so I don't get as much advance at higher RPMs.  I even got rid of that annoying buzz in the radio--the internal ground wire must have been faulty before.  After a quick retune, I'm back on the road and running well.  She pulls nicely and smoothly off of idle and revs past 4500 RPM without a hitch.  I haven't gone to redline yet... I need another 100 miles on the clock first!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Driving to Work

Having put about 250 miles on the clock, I decided it was time for a longer trip.  Unfortunately, that trip was to work. :(

I live about 50 miles from my office, which works out to about an hour commute each way.  (I'm not complaining, by the way.)  But that makes for a nice 100 mile round trip... so last week I bit the bullet, packed a repair kit and hit the road.

I took mostly side streets at about 45-55 mph, but about 15 miles of the journey was on the freeway (southbound 101, actually) and I topped out at 75 mph.  (That's 4000 RPM, which is better than it was with the 4.22 diff).  It was definitely interesting.  The car ran really well and the ride was comfortable.  I do have a vibration in the steering wheel at 70, which I chalk up to needing to balance the tires at the lower pressure I'm running (24/22 instead of 32).

UPDATE 7 Jan 19: I am now running 26 front/28 rear and I like this configuration.  It was a tire balance issue and everything is perfectly stable at highway speeds.  I've made it up to 83 MPH per the GPS.  As Neo would say, 'Whoa'.

On the way home, I took side streets only and it was pretty decent.  The car developed a knocking from underneath (which was a slightly loose mount for the stabilizer bar and a slightly loose rear damper) and a thrumming in the steering wheel at 60mph (which I think is a wheel bearing that needs to be shimmed).  I need to look at the steering rack, too; it clunks a bit, and I don't like that.

Anyhow, here's a couple of pics of me and Gidget at work!

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

First Service

At almost 200 miles on the clock, it's time for a service.  I changed the oil and filter, transmission and rear axle oils.  The oil filter was particularly stubborn--I had to remove the spin-on adapter from the block, which meant removing the generator to get to it.  I ended up punching a screwdriver through the filter to get it off.  I don't know why it was so difficult, but the new filter is on just hand tight and shouldn't be a problem at the next change (likely 1000 mi).

The transmission fluid (actually, just motor oil) looked pretty clean with just a few bits of brass that aren't abnormal to see.  The rear axle fluid was more gray than I expected, but it had no bits in it... the axle tube may have just had some residue.  We'll see what it looks like next time.

I also dropped the oil pan to replace the cork front and rear seals with neoprene versions.  The cork seals were already leaking.  When I pulled the oil pan, I didn't see anything too scary inside--the oil was clean and there were just a few bits of residue that I think are not bad to see.  I also took a look inside the bottom end, and while there are some scuff marks on a couple of cam lobes (likely a result of the sticky valve issues I had) I think everything's OK.

Once the sump was reinstalled, I filled up the engine and transmission with Castrol GTX 20w50, and the rear axle with 80w90.  I also Tefloned the transmission and rear axle filler plugs as I noticed drips from those spots.  A subsequent drive to get lunch with my daughter shows no leaks around the oil pan or the filler plugs, so here's hoping things are sealed up nicely now.  I did check the front and rear oil seals and see no leaks there, which is great news as those are the typical leaky spots to worry about.  It seems that the rear main seal from Gerard's Garage is working well.

I did get a little eager filling the engine and managed to spill about a 1/2 cup of oil, which was fun cleaning up and got a little smelly as it burned off the exhaust header.  Next time I'll take it easy.

After the oil change I noticed that my oil pressure is much improved, though it wasn't bad before... now I pull 60psi cold at idle and about 50psi when warm, up from 50 and 40 respectively. The break-in oil was a 10w30w, so this isn't a surprise.

The car still runs well, though it is definitely running rich to compensate for timing being off while I wait for my recurved distributor.  I got up to 60 for the first time without any problems (and my new speedo cable worked nicely, too).  Aside from a couple of annoying vibratory rattles, the car is a blast to drive.  It has good power when you push the go pedal, even with the 3.9 ratio diff, and I haven't even put it all the way down yet.  It pulls nicely from idle and really picks up around 3000 RPM with a throaty exhaust note.  I'm really happy with the setup, and I expect more once I get the timing set properly.

I did take a stab at shifting the rear axle, but I am beginning to suspect that a combination of factory and restoration alignment problems (one isn't my fault) are the culprit.  I think I will have to either shift the rear spring hangars about 1/4" or make a custom set of plates to shift the centering point on the about 1/8".  Alternatively, I could admit that the axle stabilizer isn't doing its job and install a Panhard rod to pull the axle over a bit, but that's money I don't want to spend right now...

I also want to stiffen up the rear dampers a bit to prevent bottoming out over bumps.  A 30w fork oil is the first step (up from 20w), and a valve adjustment is the next if that doesn't do what I want.
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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Crossing the Finish Line

I've crossed the finish line.  Well, figuratively.  I guess I could say I crossed the grass to make it to the show.

My goal was to get Gidget on the road in time for the British Wheels On The Green show hosted by the Arizona MG Club (which I have rejoined).  I made it!  It was a great show with over 80 cars from British marques such as MG, Austin-Healey, Triumph, Jaguar, and Mini.  There were Jensen-Healeys (three!) and a couple of Lotuses (Loti?), and even a Rolls.  It was cool to see so many of these cars still survive in Arizona.

Without further ado, here's Gidget at the show!


How did I do?  Well, I was the only Midget (of two scheduled) and we needed three entrants to make a class.  So I didn't walk away with any awards, but I did get a nice mention during the awards presentation and a promise that I'd have competition next year.  I got lots of great comments on the body and paint work, on how clean everything was, and questions about how I did things.  I met some new friends and am looking forward to participating in the club.

It doesn't matter. My award was getting there and being part of the festivities.  My marathon is over.  Now I can just tinker and keep things running.  I already have a short list:

  • Fix a leaky fuel sender gasket.
  • Replace the oil pan gasket at my first fluid change.
  • Install those headlamp relays.
  • Keep trying to seal up the steering rack.
  • Fix a noisy horn contact.
  • Continue to try to realign the rear axle--that tire still rubs, and I just had a new one installed (the old one is now the spare).
  • Install the recurved distributor I have out for rebuild and retune.
  • Fix a couple of rattles that happen at just the right RPM.

But hey, that's life with a classic car.  I can live with that.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Enjoying the Ride

As I finish off the last few bits of trim, I've started driving to a few places.  But I had to do some major engine work first.

On my first extended test drive, I found that I couldn't get over about 45 MPH before the engine would drop a cylinder.  However, once I returned to idle it would run on all four again.  After some diagnosis of plugs, wires and ignition, I got some advice that it might be incorrect clearances for the valve guides.  So I pulled the head, and wouldn't you know it--they were right.

When I had the head rebuilt, the machinist installed bronze valve guides.  They're great because they self-lubricate and last practically forever.  The thing is, you have to know what you're doing when you install them.  Because bronze has a higher expansion coefficient than iron (the OEM guide material), the guide needs a greater clearance when cold so the clearance is correct when warm.

I found that three of the valves were stuck in the head (well, not totally stuck--but not easy to remove).  I had bought a special set of gauges and a hone to fix this, just in case--I guessed right.  The clearance was as little as 0.001" when 0.003" is required.

So I honed them out, put everything back together, and so far all's been well.

I'm glad I sorted this out.  Now, I have confidence I can get to the show, and still have some time for those few final trim pieces and to paint a spare tire rim.  Other than that, everything's functioning.

Once I get about 150 miles on her, I'll do a long drive and take her to work.  That will probably be after the show.

Right now my biggest dilemma is whether to fit the bumpers.  I assembled them and did a test fit, and I can make it work--but it hides that pretty spoiler.

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