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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