Monday, August 1, 2011

The MGB is Home Again

Look out below!
Some posts back, I mentioned that my trusty MGB was temporarily in residence at Richard Cunningham's spacious garage in Daphne. Richard talked me into letting him haul the ailing car the 10 or miles to his place so we could track down a fueling issue - among other things.

The old girl had a habit of sooting up the spark plugs making smooth running a near impossibility. It also had a rather noisy top end so it was determined that a replacement rocker shaft might be in order as well. The cherry on the top of this petrol-doused sundae was the near constant overflow from the twin HS4 carbs. No amount of float bowl tapping seemed to make the float needle seat as it should.

Caged fury
Richard brought his trailer around the McDonald homestead in Spanish Fort where we carefully pushed the yellow peril out of my garage and down the steeply inclined driveway to the waiting trailer below. My garage is about ten feet higher than the street level so I piloted the non-running 'B down the incline and on the trailer. We only had to shove the two front wheels on board and we were ready to roll.

On arrival chez Cunningham we pushed the car off the trailer and into the air conditioned garage where we began to diagnose the issues - after a cup of coffee, of course. First was a compression test (it's never had one and I was a bit concerned about the engine's tightness) and it came up acceptable. No more than 10 psi difference between the cylinders and no less than 130 psi. Whew. 

We then decided to install the better-than-mine rocker shaft that I was able to procure from SABCC President Noel Eagleson's stash of MGB parts. The shaft can be installed without removing the head, but you need more withdrawal space than the radiator and thermostat housing will allow so, out they go. We got the new shaft in with a minimum of fuss and re-installed the critical cooling equipment and coolant juice. We then adjusted the valves to spec and got the old girl running temporarily to see if the valvetrain noise was reduced. Wow - its never run this quiet. Still a little noise with the bonnet up, but it made a world of difference. 
We rock!

Now, shut the car off before we waste any more expensive gasoline on Richard's epoxy-coated garage floor. We pulled the float bowl lids and and the needles looked fine (Viton tipped and installed by Pierre Fontana in 1998) but we thought it would be prudent to chuck in a new set. A phone call to Mike Darby of Darby Classic Restoration revealed that he had an ample stock and, yes, we could drop by and purchase them. 

With a new set of float needles in hand we put them in, set the float height according the book and started the yellow MGB. Nope - still puking out fuel. We repeated the drill several more times with a consistent rate of failure and then decided to call Mike to see what his advice was. It seems that Mike likes to set his floats a little higher than the book so we tried that. It seemed to staunch the flow of fuel to the floor. We buttoned it up and I took it out for a test run. Really nice. 

High fives, fist bumps and caveman hooting noises. Yeah, we bad. 

I set out for home and stopped at the local big box, members-only kind of store to meet my long suffering spouse. I parked the MG and immediately detected the aroma of neat gasoline. A peek under the front of the car confirmed what my generous nose already indicated. I called Richard and he suggested driving the car back to his place where we would snatch the SUs off the car and show them who's boss. 

"Just don't set yourself on fire on the way back," Richard helpfully advised me. Thanks, buddy.

We had the carburetors off the car in a few minutes and we immediately noticed that the float bowls were hanging at an angle that didn't look exactly kosher and the throttle shafts (that I knew were less than tight) were as loose as a six-year-old's front teeth. I called Mike Darby again and asked if I could bring my ailing carbs in for a rebuild and new throttle shaft bushings. "No problem," he said and quoted me one of his usual reasonable prices. I dropped them off and told him that there was no rush to get them back.

Last week, I met up with Mike and the rest of the Friday evening pizza bunch and he announced that he had the carburetors back together as good as they were born. The gang at the table hatched a plan to install the new wool headliner in Richard's 1964 E-Type coupe restoration project and get the carburetors in the yellow peril. We departed with plans to meet up the next afternoon.

Richard got his headliner installed with a minimum of fuss (but a lot of worry) and wrote about it in his excellent blog where he is tracking the restoration process.

Mike and I (OK, mostly Mike) got the carbs installed in the 'B and we started it up. It fired up immediately and ran smoothly, but it was pushing fuel out of the front overflow. I switched off the car and Mike adjusted the level and gave the float and mechanism a thorough looking-over. He replaced the float bowl lid and I started the car once more. Drop tight. The fuel stayed in the fuel system.

Let me show you how its done
I replaced the air filters and buttoned everything up. Mike attached the accelerator cable then tisked-tisked over the state of the choke cable. It had started to fray at the end. He did his best to clip, trim and push the cable over the thimble, but from the look he gave me, I knew it would need replacement. Mike had me start the car again so he could set the mixture and idle. He then pronounced it healed. He suggested I drive it for a while and bring to his shop for final fettling.

The gang celebrated the evening's events with pizza (again) and refreshing adult beverages. We drifted out of the garage with a feeling of accomplishment and we went our separate ways. I took the MG home with Richard following me so I could return and pick up my econobox and get it home as well. 

The next day, a Sunday, I slid into the seat of the MG and pulled the choke handle. Nothing. It wouldn't move. Damn, I suppose it must have a stray wire strand gumming up the operation. I'd best get one on order.  Might as well clean out the boot and get the tools and antifreeze put away, then.

The boot floor is swimming in antifreeze. One of the jugs (the full one, natch) rubbed against the jack and holed the jug, releasing the expensive green fluid into the boot. 

When it rains...        

1 comment:

  1. we'll get it going, we are well on the way. It's just minor stuff now. :-)


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