Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It All Fit!

Everything's installed in the engine compartment, and it all fits.

Incredible, isn't it?

I am now ready to install the wings and bonnet, and from there the lights, trim and interior.  And the new exhaust system I'm ordering.

But then, I'm... done?  Could it be?
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Saturday, August 25, 2018


I drove my car today.

I. Drove. My. Car. Today!

To get this far, I had to install the dashboard so I could install the temperature and oil pressure gauge.  To do that, I had to install the crash pad and tonneau snaps.  I fixed the fuel and coolant leaks.  I fit the turn indicator switch and cowl, and hooked up the gas pedal. I installed the exhaust system, too.

I also had to fix the windscreen so it fit properly on the passengers side, so I could close the door (and bolt it down in the center).

I sat on the base of the seat, not bolted down even, and tootled up the street.  The car makes some funny noises... or maybe it's been too long.  I also have a major exhaust leak which means I need a new pipe.

One thing I am concerned about is that the passenger's side wheel is about 1/4" closer to the edge of the fender than the drivers side.  It looks like it's not centered.  I don't know if it can be adjusted.  It does fit, and nothing rubs, so maybe that's just the way it's going to be.

Since I installed the dash, I put the switches in and the fuel gauge too.  (The gauge works!)  I have to install the choke cable and the heater switch... and the tach and speedo, of course.

Oh, and I have wipers. :)

There's tons of work left to do... but I am super duper excited!
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Sunday, August 19, 2018

First Start!

Well, I did it.  Gidget runs!

I finished installing the cooling system and filled her up with fluids.  I installed the driveshaft.  I wired up the fuel pump and the electronic ignition (it's a Crane Cams XR700).  I pulled the plugs and cranked her over until I had oil pressure, so the engine wouldn't start dry.  Then, I put gas in the tank, installed the plugs, turned the key, and... nothing.

She turned over fine, but no start.  Not even a sputter.  Just a couple of backfires.

I figured she needed a bit of help, so I added some starter fluid.  Nope.

Thoroughly depressed, I went to bed.  I posted for some help on the MG Experience, and got some suggestions, like "did you check the timing?".  I figured, yeah, I checked.  But I'll check in the AM.

The next morning, I went out and looked at the old motor (that runs) to see where the distributor drive was.  Hmmm.  It looked different from what I had set.  So I pulled the valve cover, turned her to TDC, and...  I had installed the distributor drive 180 degrees out of phase.

Huzzah!  That's an easy fix, I thought.  So I pulled the distributor, reinstalled the drive to match the old motor, and put everything back together.  I turned the key, and... still nothing.

I figured, WTF?  So I shot some starter fluid into the carbs, and she fired up!  Then she died.  I tried again, and this time she stayed running, badly.  She would almost stall, then race.  Fuel was leaking from the front float bowl, so I shut her down.

I pulled the carbs and reseated the intake manifold, because it looked a little fishy.  I reinstalled the carbs, and this time when I fired her up she stayed running.  I had to richen the mixture quite a bit, but now she holds a nice idle.  I ran her up to temp and I have about 50psi at idle, with a steady 180 temp.

Perfect.  And, no weird sounds or other leaks.  The generator charges, too.

It turns out I have a bad gasket, so I cobbled something together for the moment.  It didn't help much, so I'll order new needles, seats and gaskets.

So, here's the big moment!  She's already running, so it's not as dramatic as I wanted, but... finally!

She sounds good and revs nicely.  There's some power in there.

I did roll her back and forth a bit to test the clutch and transmission.  The clutch works but is very low to the floor.  Maybe a good bleeding will help, but I suspect I need a new slave cylinder rod or a smaller diameter slave cylinder.  But she does move under her own power!

Next time, I'll get the timing set properly and balance the carbs.  I'll fix that fuel leak.  I'll install the exhaust system (it's just hooked up and hanging loose for now).  I'll cobble a seat together and go for a drive around the block.

I have a running car.  I can't believe it.  I'm so stoked.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

STOP! (In The Name Of Something)

I cleaned the brake lights, installed new bulbs, and installed them.  When I step on the brakes, I get nice, bright brake lights.

Note that the body of the light acts as the ground.  If you don't ground it properly (is in, metal-to-metal contact), you end up feeding back through another path for the ground.  In this case, it was the turn indicator.  I'll have this 'problem' with the front turn indicators, too.

I also noticed that the hot lead for the brake light switch is run to the 'switched' fuse in the fuse block.  This seems like a Bad Thing.  So, I ran the lead to the 'hot' fuse.  Now, my brake lights work even when I have the key off.

I also have everything else hooked up (except the wipers and the fuel gauge).  The wire to the wiper motor appears to have been run to the wrong place in the harness; instead of going to the fuse block, it goes to the dash harness.  So I'll have to make a junction to power the wipers and the fuel gauge.

When I bump the starter, it turns!  I have dash lights!  I have (rear) parking lights!  I don't yet have turn signals or headlights, though.  Once I get the engine running, I'll button up the engine bay and then install the wings, which have the headlights and front turn indicator/parking lights.
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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Almost Ready for Hamsters

After a long day, the engine's in.

I rented an engine hoist for the occasion, and got the engine off the stand.


Once on the ground, I mounted the flywheel.  I had to fashion an extra spacer to keep it from rubbing against the new oil seal.

Once that was sorted, I installed the clutch and pressure plate, with my handy-dandy clutch alignment tool I've been saving for 15 years.  There was just one problem: it didn't fit.  The alignment tool, that is.  I had to modify it to allow it to slip into place.

The Midget clutch plate has a specific installation orientation.  The 'flywheel side' has to actually face the flywheel.  I have made this mistake before.  This time, I took a picture proving I know which way was in, and installed it properly.

Once the clutch was aligned, on with the transmission!  It fit, first time.  However, I ended up removing it after discovering I had put the clutch fork in backwards, so that had to be fixed.  Now, everything lines up perfectly.

It's been 14 years since this transmission had seen an engine.  I sure hope I rebuilt it properly.


The next morning, I discovered another problem: the engine hoist was too wide to roll under the car.  I ended up putting the front on jack stands and removing the wheels to get the clearance I needed.  Then, in went the engine!  And, out came the engine!  I forgot to install the exhaust manifold, which (being custom) only fit one way, and the engine was in the way.

Once that hiccup was solved, the engine went in to stay.


I spent the rest of the day doing fun stuff, like:
  • Drilling holes for the transmission mounts that I forgot about when I welded in the floor pans.
  • Fixing the clutch slave cylinder fitting and bleeding the clutch.  Because of how the line is routed, the bleeder is on the top--and it's not easy.  But, I have a working clutch!
  • Fitting the cooling fan.
  • Installing the splash shields, braces and radiator.  Everything fit with a just a little modification to the slash guards, which weren't the originals.
  • Installing and hooking up the oil cooler and routing the hoses.
  • Hooking up the starter.
  • Running the wiring to the front of the car, and hooking up the horns.  They work, and they sound great.  It's a harmonious two-tone sound.  They're quite loud, which is a good thing when the Miata next to you is bigger than you are.
  • Installing the intake manifold and fitting the carburettors, heat shield and fuel lines.  I can't install them all the way as I need a new pivot for the accelerator linkage, which is on the way.
  • Running some cooling hoses.  I need to buy some heater hose as what I got from VB obviously doesn't fit.

Next up:
  • Mounting and hooking up the electronic ignition box.
  • Figure out enough of the dash wiring to hook up the ignition switch and tach.
  • Temporarily hook up the water temp and oil pressure gauge.
  • Fit the driveshaft.  (This is a pain, as there's no easy access and the front joint is a bit floppy).
  • Finish installing the cooling system.
  • Finish installing the carbs.
  • Adjust the fan belt.
  • Run the fuel pump wire.
  • Fill with fluids and gasoline, say a quick prayer and light the fire.
Actually, it's more complex than just starting it up.  I have to get the oiling system primed so there's oil pressure when it runs the first time.  I also have a special break-in oil to use.  I also have to set the static timing so it has a chance to run right away.

This could happen pretty soon--as early as next weekend.  The suspense must be riveting.  Stay tuned!

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Sunday, August 5, 2018

(Wind) Shields Up!

More work that's not quite installing an engine...

  • Installed the windshield (windscreen for you Brits out there)
  • Installed sun visors (I don't know what Brits call them)
  • Fit the accelerator pedal (found the bolts)
  • Fit the footwell and defroster vents
  • Installed the passenger's side window
  • Bled the braking system
  • Installed new parking brake rods and hooked up the parking brake
So my car can now stop in two ways, and I won't get bugs in my teeth.  All I need is to make it go.


For some reason, the fitting I made for the clutch line is leaking.  I'll have to make a new fitting.  And it turns out that putting the pistons in backwards in the master cylinder lets all of the brake fluid out.  I'll remember that for the next time I do this, which will be never.  But the brakes work great; a high and hard pedal that's even better than I remember.

Oh, so close...  next up after the engine is:
  • Finish wiring the ignition system and gauges, which means I need to install the dash, so I have to install the dash crash pad and tonneau fittings
  • Install cooling system and oil cooler
  • Fit carburetors
  • Make exhaust pipe and install exhaust
  • Fill with fluids
  • Light the fire

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