Wednesday, December 1, 2021

BWOG 2021

The Arizona MG Club held its "British Wheels on the Green" (BWOG) show on November 7th this year.  It was a fantastic event and yours truly won first place in his class!  (There were only three Midgets, but I can happily accept.)

We had some live coverage and an interview with Fox 10 news!  I got to be on the TV!  It's here.

Here's some photos of the event.  As President, I also got to select the "President's Choice" award - a beautiful 1959 Triumph TR3A that you had to see to believe.  In fact, you can - 

Our President's Choice...

And of course, Gidget!

Again, it was a great show and I can't wait for BWOG 2022!

More... »

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Slight Misadventure

 I've had such a good run of luck with Gidget - starts up, purrs like a kitten, always happy - that even a small problem warrants a little news.

Gidget and I had a little adventure – well, misadventure – a little while back.  On my way home from an errand one morning, I was about to get on the freeway when I started hearing a loud ticking.  It got worse, and then I heard (and felt) an even worse problem – she was only running on three cylinders.  This was a Bad Thing.

I immediately thought of a burnt exhaust valve and feared the worst.  I managed to limp to an O’Reilly’s near my house, shut things down, and grabbed my tools.  Pulling the valve cover resulted in a huge sigh of relief.  Can you spot the problem?

Okay, I can’t make you wait for it.  The adjuster on #3 valve backed all the way out.  The intake valve wasn’t opening at all.

Well, I could fix that!

I turned the adjuster back down, guessed at the valve clearance, and tightened it up.  After reinstalling the valve cover, I turned the key… and she started right up, as pretty as ever.

I drove home and thanked the automotive gods for it not being serious.  I reset the valve lash (checking them all – the others were okay) and Gidget is happy once again.  I don’t know why that one adjuster backed out, but I made sure to double check everything!

More... »

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Gidget's Big Sister

I've gone and put my foot in it... Gidget has a big sister!  Check out my new blog, Bringing Back a B to find out all about her.  She needs a lot of help, but I'm sure she and Gidget will get along just fine.

But one quick peek... here she is!

More... »

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Something's Brewing

 Stay tuned for an exciting announcement...

More... »

Monday, March 8, 2021

Happy Days

Wow, it's been a while.  Happily, there's nothing to report but good news.

Let's see... I got my recalibrated speedo drive late last year, and my speedometer now reads within 2% of actual as measured by GPS.  That's better than my Mini ever was.  The only slightly annoying thing is that the needle bounces between 60 and 70, which is of course right in the spot I want it to be steady on the highway...

Highway driving is such a dream with the 5 speed and the 3.9 diff.  I'm running about 3200RPM at 65MPH as my rebuilt and calibrated tachometer indicates.  The conversion has turned a frenetic outing into a true pleasure.  I've got enough power to accelerate in top gear that I can keep up with and pass traffic without needing to downshift.  It's not the rush of a supercharged motor, but it's fun.  And it's also fun to see all these high end sports car drivers give me thumbs up as they whizz by.  (Arizona's got some places with money, so it isn't that unusual to see a Lamborghini or an Audi R8 winging its way along the roads here.)

Speaking of power... I've been battling with this persistent ticking noise ever since the rebuild.  It started at about 2500 and went away at about 4000RPM.  I thought it was the valve train, and I even went so far as to replace all the rockers and valve springs, to no real effect.  The engine ran well and I figured I would just live with it, though I didn't like it.

But back to the power aspect. I was running a '3' needle since I've done some extensive work to the HS2s to flow better, and I'm moving more volume through the engine overall.  (The standard needle is an AN, and the 'rich' is the H6; the '3' is the next step up.)  The only thing was, I could either get a good idle but the engine felt choked off at the top end, or good top end power with a lumpy, low idle that revealed itself to be a rich idle.  So I struck a balance that wasn't great, but worked.  

I also had the '4' needle (yes, the next step up) that I had tried with poor results.  I figured, what the heck.  I had nothing better to do on a Friday evening (because I'm old now) and I wanted to play around.  So I swapped the '3's with the '4's, and turned the mix down a couple of flats to get that good idle.  Lo and behold, she ran great!  So off I went on a test drive, and I had really smooth and strong power delivery with a perfect idle.  But now I could hear some pinking, likely revealed because I had a bit more fuel coming in now.

I dialed back the advance a couple of degrees and took off again.  The pinking was reduced... and so was the ticking noise!  I stopped again, backed the timing down another degree, and both the pinking and the ticking were gone!  My ticking noise was really a regular detonation.  It makes sense because 2500 to 4000 is the powerband for my engine.  As a test, I advanced the timing about a degree and went for a quick drive, and the ticking was back (a little).  At least now I know what to listen for.  I can just baaaarely hear something like it, but I think that's actually a normal sound.

The next day I took a drive from my home out to Fountain Hills, which is about a 40 mile drive.  It was joyous.  Every run up from idle to 5500RPM sounded exactly as it should, and with the twin tip Sebring exhaust it's a throaty, slightly angry sound.  The power is phenomenal compared to the original 1098.  The 5 speed lets me cruise at 70 all day long, and I get about 25MPG to boot.  I want some curvy roads up and down hills to have some fun.  I'd have no problem with a run up to Prescott or even Flagstaff now (though it would be a real challenge, given the grade and the 7000ft elevation).  I might do that this year.  I'd love to get some dyno time to see what I am producing out of this engine.

Now I just need to figure out those squeaking brakes... maybe a big brake conversion a la Creative Spridgets will be the solution.  (He's still working on it.)  But the brakes work great with good pedal feel, and I can lock up the front brakes at full application.  It's hard to complain at this point, but there's always perfection...

More... »

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Those Are The Brakes

A couple of weeks ago, I got in Gidget to go to the gym.  I noticed something on the floor mat... which happened to be brake fluid.

It looks like the rebuilt master cylinder started failing.  I didn't lose much--just a couple of capfuls--but it was enough to trash the paint on the entire pedal box assembly.  I also noticed a slight leak at the clutch slave cylinder, which was new at the time but didn't hold up.

So out came the box, master and slave.  I cleaned and repainted the box and pedals, and reassembled them.  I replaced the master with a new unit this time, but I saved the old unit as it's a) rebuildable and b) an original Lockheed.

Everything went back in well, and once bled I have a nice and firm pedal for both brake and clutch.  I did notice a small weep around the clutch pipe fitting, but hopefully I've solved that too.

I also took the opportunity to swap out the rotors and pads with new cross-drilled and vented units.  They look nice and work well.  Unfortunately, they still squeal...

More... »

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Squeaky Squeaky Engine Mice

I finally got everything back together, and it's wonderful.  I cleared up my driveshaft rubbing by popping the driveshaft out, removing the seal, cutting it down and reinstalling everything.  No more rubbing noises.

I put about 100 miles on the conversion, and all seemed well until the engine developed a 'squeak' that I had never heard before.  It was coming from the area of the valve train, which seemed impossible... until I pulled the valve cover and found two things:

  1. The squeak was definitely from that area.
  2. There was no oil being tossed about.
The second one is what really concerned me.  Normally, there should be a little bit of oil being expelled from the rocker shaft to lubricate the rocker arm bearings.  This was not happening.

After asking around a bit, one of the questions I got was whether I was sure I had assembled the rocker assembly properly.  I thought I had, but it was the easiest thing to check.  So I pulled it apart.  Everything seemed right--the oil inlet hole was in the right spot--but when I tried to blow some air through the assembly (to see what came out), I got... nothing.


This means that I had been driving for about 3100 miles without any oil at the top end of the engine.

At least I had something to diagnose.  I pulled apart the rocker assembly on the bench, and sure enough... I had put the rocker shaft backwards so the oil hole was at the back, not the front of the engine.

It was this:

It should have been this:

Th oil hole is the second one from the right in the bottom picture.  That's what lets oil into the rocker shaft and out to the rocker bearings.

Easy enough to fix.  I reassembled the shaft (properly) and reinstalled.  At startup, no more squeaks and I see a little bit of oil puddling around the valves.

I'm very fortunate that the wear in these is minimal.  I couldn't feel any appreciable wear when running my thumbnail along the shaft.  So I think I dodged a bullet.

Now I just need a recalibrated speedometer drive adapter.  My reading is off by about 10%.  In the meantime, I can drive!

More... »

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Around the Block in 5th Gear

I took a crawl around the block this week.  Sooooo close!

I solved my cooling leak, which was just the hose fitting at the radiator not sealing because of the line for the thermostatic bulb.  I moved it to the side at the thermostat, and it sealed up.  I pulled the radiator and relocated the fan, and no more bad noises there either.

I disconnected and bypassed the oil cooler to see if it would help my cooling concern, and it didn't.  I think it's just a factor of it being 110 degrees F.  I'll hook up the oil cooler again.

I managed to bleed the clutch, and after adjustment I have what seems to be a good pedal with engagement about halfway to the floor.  The pedal is a bit heavier, but that's ok.

I also modified the shift lever to be the right length and offset, and it fits about in the center of the shifter cover.  It looks almost stock.

So I crawled around the block, and huzzah!  Everything works.  I get all five gears and I can back up.  The speedo works and appears to be reading right.  But I have one disappointing issue... the driveshaft yoke is just barely rubbing on the shroud over the rear transmission oil seal when I go over some bumps, which shifts the yoke forward just enough.  So I'm going to have to figure out how to get in there and modify the shroud to work.  I think I can do it--the shroud plus seal will pop out, if I disconnect the driveshaft and move it out of the way.

Maybe one more week, and I'm back on the road!
More... »

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

She Lives Again

Gidget's heart beats once again!

After installing the aluminum radiator (which was not a simple ordeal, let me tell you) and a longer starter cable, and filling the gearbox, I hooked up the battery and turned the key.  I got a couple of puffs, and on the second attempt she fired up with a little choke.  Oil pressure is good and there are no funny noises.

All is not quite sunny in Philadelphia, though.  I have a coolant leak at the top radiator hose fitting, which I believe is just the way the electric fan sender is installed in the hose.  There are no leaks until coolant starts to circulate under pressure.  I also have a problem with the electric fan being mounted too low, which has the housing pushed up against the crossmember and the blades are glancing off the housing, making a lovely racket.  So the radiator has to come out for me to relocate the fan.

I also was not impressed with the cooling capability of this radiator.  The temp climbed to over 200F, even with the electric fan running.  I suspect a combination of it being almost 110F outside and a need to get the fan running at full speed.  I may reinstall the original fan for a little extra oomph.

So, once I sort that and bleed the clutch, it will be time to crawl around the block and test out this new transmission!

More... »

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Eaglet Has Landed

I finally have the engine and five-speed in the car.  The actual installation of the engine wasn't too bad, but the transmission mount was a real bear.

I did a good amount of preparation to ensure the transmission would fit by test-fitting the transmission and mount, so I knew it would actually work.  I've got a shop crane and load leveler.  Should be simple, right?  Well, almost...

The only real difficulty was in the last little bit, where the crankshaft pulley rubbed against the front crossmember.  My 'clearancing' of the heater box wasn't quite enough, but I was hesitant to do any more because I was at risk of distorting the box.  A little finagling made it all work out.  I even preinstalled the driveshaft so I wouldn't have to struggle later on.  I installed the front motor mounts (loosely), and everything looked good for the moment.

The last item to install was the bottom half of the rear transmission mount.  The instructions said to just 'install it'.  That... didn't quite happen.

The mount comes in two parts so that there is enough room for the back half of the transmission to fit into the tunnel during installation.  The bottom half is supposed to slip into place after jacking up the back of the transmission.  I found that there was not enough clearance because the rubber mount wouldn't clear the transmission.  I ended up having to carve a hunk out of the rubber portion of the mount, and about 1/8" of the metal portion of the mount.  I moved the engine forward as far as I could (about 1/2"), and then was able to pry the mount into place.  That only took two hours... but once there, the mount lined up exactly right and the bolts bolted up.  Nice.

That was enough for the day.  It was quite hot out and I ended up overheating a bit, so I took the rest of the day off after putting everything away.

Next time--I start bolting stuff back on, and hopefully get close to a (second) first start.
More... »