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.

More... »

Friday, October 12, 2018

Street Legal and Ready to Roll

I did a mundane, yet extraordinary thing today.  I drove to the DMV and got my car registered.  The extraordinary part is that I drove Gidget!


(The bonnet is open because I was waiting for a VIN inspection.  It shuts.)

To get to this point, I had to:

  • Install the steering wheel (and horn button, which works!).
  • Install seat belts (3 point, and hopefully I will never have to find out how well they work).
  • Remove the lowering kit from the front suspension; the tires were rubbing against the bottom of the wings, and I couldn't get out of my driveway with the spoiler installed.
  • Installed the spoiler.  Doesn't it look cool?
  • Bolted in the radio to finish the interior.
  • Added the wing mirrors and some of the chrome trim.
  • Tightened the exhaust so it wouldn't clank.
  • Finished the front wiring and installed the grille.

I drove there, got the inspection done (to fix my title, which had an incorrect VIN), and got a plate.


While I can't customize it, 'JS' are my daughter's initials.  So, awesome.  The registration cost $66.00.  Gidget is titled as a '66.  So, karma!

On the way home, the clouds began to clear and it was a beautiful day.  I stopped and got a full tank:  6 gallons (I had a gallon already).


It was a great drive.  There are no squeaks or rattles of consequence.  Everything's tight and the ride is firm, but not jouncy.  It is surprisingly quiet.  The exhaust sounds great.  The shake and rattle in the gear shift is gone, which was a big problem I blamed on worn out mainshaft bearings.  The brakes work well and she stops straight, with some effort (no power brakes here, folks).

It was like driving a new, old car.  And it was wonderful.

So I have a few things left to do. Everything works, but I found a few problems:

  • The left rear tire rubs pretty much all the time against the fender well.  I will have to remove the lowering kit and attempt to align the rear axle better.
  • My turn signals stopped working, mostly.
  • The radio blew its fuse because I accidentally grounded the charge port against the parking brake handle.  I will have to be very careful about that.  And I need to make it easier to change the fuse.  (My iPod Nano works and I was listening to FM, so that's cool!)
  • I need to do a tune up.  I think she's running rich.
  • I need to add toe-in to get some steering return.  It tracks straight, though--which means everything's aligned properly front-to-back.
  • The revamped speedo (the original) is off by about 9%, which is roughly what I expect.  The odometer quit working.  I think a spring let go.  But I have another, newer speedo that I plan to do an internals swap after testing.
Things to do:

  • Take care of the rear axle issue.
  • Finish installing the few bits of chrome and snaps and things.
  • Assemble and install the bumpers, which I think I should do even though I don't have to (and I like the clean lines without them).
  • Finish the tuneup.
  • Fix my turn signals and replace the radio fuse.
  • Clean up and paint a spare tire rim and get a tire mounted, and get a hold down clamp for it.
  • Figure out the speedo issue.
  • Perform an alignment.
  • Touch up some paint chips.
  • Install the top (that is, the hood).
  • Install my new license plate!
I also have to install a headlamp relay kit that takes the power away from the headlamp switch and therefore saves it from getting burned up.  It will be the first 'upgrade'.

After a couple hundred miles, I have to change all of the fluids.  But that's no big deal.  I will also fix a couple of small leaks when I do that.

Those things are minor compared to what it took to get to today.  So, I am saying I'm 'done'.

I'm done.

I can't believe it.

So, what now?  It's like Inigo Montoya said; "I've been in the revenge business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life".

But I know what do do.  I will have fun driving Gidget with my wife and my daughter, who will drive and own her someday.  And I'll keep tinkering, because that's what one does with a car like this.  Then I'll find a new project after I catch up on the years of good will my family has given me to do this.

I'll keep posting, but this is really the end of my restoration saga.  I hope people find good information from this blog that they can use to fix their own cars.  I'm glad I wrote this, even if it's just for posterity.

So as the MG motto goes, 'Safety Fast!'  And thanks for reading.
More... »