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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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 Post subject: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:35 am 
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Location: Novato, CA
I know an MGB isn't everyone's idea of a great Locost donor, but there seems to be an encouraging resurgence lately of traditional builds and British car donors, which is excellent.

I've been planning this build for a while. I was on this forum pretty regularly five years ago, but things happen. I built a Locost frame back then, for practice. I think that'll help me with the current build. Here's a picture of my old frame. It's totally book and the new one will look just like it, except for the suspension and the transmission tunnel, which will be a little wider. In case you're wondering why I don't just start the build with this frame, I should point out that it's made of wood, not steel. It was just practice.

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I started a few months ago cutting steel tubes for the new frame, but then started thinking more about the suspension, and got sidetracked building the A-arms. Turns out it wasn't as easy as it first appeared. Lots of do-overs. But the parts seemed to turn out okay. Here's a completed upper control arm. The UCA mimics the split MGB arm (actually the lever arms of the front shock), which lets you install and remove the kingpin without destroying the upper bushing each time you do it. These also provide camber adjustment, which a stock MGB doesn't.

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This is a lower control arm. Pretty basic, I know, but still a challenge for me. I went through about 4 iterations of the UCAs and a couple of the LCAs before I figured things out. I have pictures of all the jigs I made plus all the gruesome details of building these things up at mglocost.com.

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Here are the A-arms assembled on the mock-up frame. The upright is a stock MGB unit with kingpins and plain bushings (a.k.a. "trunions") at either end with a stub axle that swivels around the middle for steering. M.G. never quite got around to using ball joints.

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All of the tubes for the frame have been cut to size now, and I've also made all of the suspension brackets and most of the other pieces, so I'm going to start sticking things together once I get the remains of the donor out of the garage. My welding experience includes a semester at my local Junior College, where we did mostly gas and a little stick welding. We didn't do MIG at all. I have a friend who's a a real pro with a TIG welder, and he did all the welding on the A-arms. But my gf recently got me a new Miller 140 for my birthday, so I'm ready to give it a shot.


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:05 am 
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Location: Park Hills, KY
The frame in the pic is made of wood??? Wow... Incredible workmanship!


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:00 pm 
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That is some good woodmanship. Maybe you should go to work for Morgan? :cheers:


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:11 pm 
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All wood, except for the nuts and bolts. I broke the rather flimsy brackets trying to attach steel A-arms, which you can see in the bottom photo.

I saw a video recently of Morgans being made. Pretty fascinating. Their woodwork is much better than mine. There won't be any wood in my Locost, except maybe the dash.


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:46 pm 
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Congrats on your build log getting started! Us fellow MGBers need to stick together. Love the wood frame. It reminds me of the guy that wanted to build a recumbent bike so he built a frame out of 2x4s just to get the positioning right. Unlike your frame, he ended up finishing it that way and I think he even sells the plans.

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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:41 pm 
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I've finally got a donor! It's not in too bad a shape for a 40-year-old car, the usual rusted body panels but the drivetrain looks good. The tires that came with it are brand new, which might seem like a great deal except they were manufactured in 2001. Wouldn't be the tires I'd want on the Locost anyway. Best thing about having a donor? No more guesswork. I need to know how big a part is, it's right there.

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The car has been sitting for a couple of years and hasn't been started in all that time. I'm wondering if I should try and get it running now, or wait another year until it's in the Locost and get it running then. I'll probably wait. Frame tubes are all cut and ready to go. Once the donor's apart, I'll start welding.

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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:26 pm 
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Start it and drive it a while to be sure (what)things are working.

And which aren't.

This way you have an idea of what you've actually got.

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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:49 pm 
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Yeah, I'm starting to think you're right. But if I'm going to do that, I'm going to pull the head and oil everything before I try to fire it up.


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:13 pm 
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Why pull the head. Squirt a small amount of oil in the plug holes. Change oil in the engine. Disconnect the coil. Turn the engine over until your gauge indicates oil pressure.

Now reconnect the coil and using a little starting ether try to start her for real.

I forgot to tell you to check compression while you are mucking around with the engine and before you start it.

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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:16 pm 
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carguy123 wrote:
Why pull the head. Squirt a small amount of oil in the plug holes. Change oil in the engine. Disconnect the coil. Turn the engine over until your gauge indicates oil pressure.

Now reconnect the coil and using a little starting ether try to start her for real.

I forgot to tell you to check compression while you are mucking around with the engine and before you start it.


You need that magical Marvel Mystery Oil! As old fashioned as it sounds I still swear by the stuff. .....
Pour it in the cylinders(a couple of tablespoons will do), let it soak overnight to make sure the rings can be free in the piston grooves, then spin it a bit with the plugs out so it can't try to hydrolock on you.
Cranking it (no more than 30 sec with a break before you do it again to save the starter from overheating) and building up oil pressure before you put in the plugs is easier on the starter and battery. .. it's still a Lucas electrical system so don't let out the smoke.

You gotta use the stock dash too! The sad part is I just recently got rid of a nice maple piece that replaced the stock metal dash panel :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:40 pm 
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oldejack wrote:
let it soak overnight to make sure the rings can be free in the piston grooves, then spin it a bit with the plugs out so it can't try to hydrolock on you.
Cranking it (no more than 30 sec with a break before you do it again to save the starter from overheating) and building up oil pressure before you put in the plugs is easier on the starter and battery. ..



I forgot the part about spinning it with the plugs out and didn't think about letting it soak. Good catch.

Wouldn't all the smoke have leaked out with it setting all that time or would it have had time to grow kinda like bacteria?

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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:39 pm 
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On starting that B-- If you get the cylinders oiled up, and spin it to get some oil pressure, you're gonna want to start the booger next. Try to listen for the fuel pump going "tick-tick-tick" when you turn on the ignition. It's mounted in the rt rear wheel well, if you decide to replace it. Also, having sat for that long, I'd betcha the carbs are gummed up for fare-you-well. For a "let's see if it'll start" task, you can spoon feed 'em some gas down the carb throats with a small bottle of gasoline but watch out for a backfire. It can damn near singe your moustache off. (Ask me how I know...)

I'd suggest a carb teardown and rebuild as soon as you know it'll fire up and run a bit. That'll give you time, while waiting for parts to arrive, to rebuild the hydraulics that have taken a squat. That's likely to be all of 'em. Well, one wheel cylinder might still work... Maybe... You know the MGBs take Castrol LMA brake fluid, right? Regular DOT 3 fluid will ruin the seals.

Lemme know if I'm preachin' to the choir. Just tryin' to help... Good luck with it!

JD "MGB Owner Since 1977" Kemp
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JD, father of Quinn, Son of a... Build Log
Quinn the Slotus:Ford 302 Powered, Mallock-Inspired, Tube Frame, Hillclimb Special
"Gonzo and friends: Last night must have been quite a night. Camelot moments, mechanical marvels, Rustoleum launches, flying squirrels, fru-fru tea cuppers, V8 envy, Ensure catch cans -- and it wasn't even a full moon." -- SeattleTom


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:41 am 
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Thanks all. MGBs and I have a long history together, although that was some years back. I think I can still R&R a head in under 2 hours though, and I'd like to get a look inside the engine, as well as replace the gaskets. The radiator is full of clean 50/50, and the crankcase is full of oil that you can still see through, so it all looks promising.

One of the things that sold me on the car was unscrewing one of the SU dashpots and hearing that familiar oil-sucking sound as I pulled up on it. I think the carbs are okay. In the trunk I found one of those carb balancing tools, the kind with the floating ball, which although never worked well for me at least shows the last guy who had the car running probably took good care of it.

The brakes are spongy but appear to work. I had the rear drums off to adjust them and they were all clean and dry inside, and the linings looked like new. The clutch reservoir was empty and the clutch pedal goes to the floor. I refilled the reservoir but it's not going to work without bleeding. And Castrol LMA is all I ever use in all my cars except the track Miata, so no issues there.

I appreciate all the input. I'll let you know when I get it started. I might even take it for a short drive.

BTW, nice ride, JD. It was a dream of mine for many years to build an EP MGB. I actually started to build one, but then along came Showroom Stock and I went in a different direction.


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:02 am 
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Oh, so I was preachin' to the choir... Sorry... :oops: Problem with text -vs- speech, where you can interrupt me before I drone on... :lol:

I had gotten the impression that the car had sat for years without being touched. In this climate anyway, that would mean the float bowls had dried up and there was a good solid coat of varnish on the needle and seat and the pistons would likely be stuck in the vacuum domes. Sounds like yours wasn't left totally unattended, like perhaps was cranked up occasionally. That bodes well for the condition of the engine. 8)

Thanks, that was a pic of "Lucretia MacEvil" my ever faithful MGB. Finally got so much rust and damage to the tub that it kinda felt like the roll cage was holding things together so she had to retire. She's at a friend's garage/barn now, in the company of two or three other old MGB race cars. I imagine they sit and talk about "the good old days."

:cheers:

*Edit* It's called a "Uni-Syn" gauge, and I never could get the SUs balanced with one either! A piece of garden hose held to my ear and at the carb throat works just fine...

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JD, father of Quinn, Son of a... Build Log
Quinn the Slotus:Ford 302 Powered, Mallock-Inspired, Tube Frame, Hillclimb Special
"Gonzo and friends: Last night must have been quite a night. Camelot moments, mechanical marvels, Rustoleum launches, flying squirrels, fru-fru tea cuppers, V8 envy, Ensure catch cans -- and it wasn't even a full moon." -- SeattleTom


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 Post subject: Re: Nick's MGB Build
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:25 am 
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'tis a shame to use a semi in-tact chrome-bumper MGB as a donor. I know there were plenty of those made and there is nothing "special" about them, but MG's (A's in particular) still hold a special place in my heart. I'd get 'er started and drive her around for the summer just as she is. Sounds like it shouldn't take too much effort. Unless you have another summer "toy" to play with.

Anyway, like JD said. I tried both the uni-syn and an auto-syn and still prefer the garden hose.

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