Wednesday, 29 May 2013

May progress

01/06 May
Busy cutting, bending and shaping the engine bay aluminium panels. By the end of Bank Holiday Monday I’d completed the inner wheel wells, and formed the panels for the nearside footbox and the scuttle. I’ve flanged and joined the panels to give the appearance of a continuous fabrication where possible, though this has been more time-consuming than I expected. In a few places I’ve had to use longer rivets than the 3/16” x 10mm ones bought in bulk from Screwfix; fortunately I had a small stock of 3/16” x 12mm long which has held out so far. In joining the flanged panels, the rivet has to go through two thicknesses of aluminium and often an increased thickness of GRP where the lay-up joins two mouldings. The rivet then has to fit through a washer to clamp against the GRP rather than just relying on a crush fit in the drilled hole. If working alone, the washer can be easily held in place by masking tape while the rivet is expanded. Where it shows most, I’ve spaced the rivets at 2” pitch. It looks right, but that’s an awful lot of riveting, some of which is accessible only with a short-handled riveter. It takes its toll on the hands!

If I’m going to get the engine in before the end of May, as planned, I need to get weaving with the footboxes and scuttle panel. The latter needs marking out and drilling for the heater inlet and outlets, and possibly for some blind grommets in anticipation of loom and control cables. I’d like to have had the footbox to install, at least temporarily, to finalise the brake pipes before the engine goes in, but I’m still waiting for Gerry’s fabricator to send it, after two months. Also still outstanding from him is the fuel tank, grill and hood bows. Patience unfortunately is not one of my virtues!
I’ve almost talked myself round to NOT separating body and chassis to fit the engine and gearbox. I know the fitting would be much easier with body removed, but I have to balance this with the difficulties of body removal, storage and re-fitting. I’m stuck with a single garage, and space is at a premium. One benefit of the single garage is that I have a 500kg lifting beam spanning it, another is that I’m lucky to have good headroom. So, with a bit of fiddling with the slinging, I should be able to slide everything in through the bonnet opening.
On BH Sunday Penny and I went to the kit car show at Stoneleigh. I’d arranged to collect the seat belt frame from Gerry at the Hawk stand. On the stand was a very well finished ‘Ace’ with BMW straight-six, and next to it a new chassis featuring transverse leaf spring suspension! What next, steering box and drag link for the ‘Ace’? The show provided an opportunity to study colour schemes and interiors, helping us make up our mind on both counts. I also found the little hinged escutcheons for access to the bonnet catches, and the T-bar to operate them. This brought back memories of our TR2 some 40 years ago!

08-12 May
A big effort these few days to finish the sheeting in the engine bay. I bought some 3/16”x14mm rivets which make life easier. Overall I’m happy with the result, there are a few imperfections which can be polished out or disguised, and the overall effect is pleasing. As I still don’t have the pedal box (promised for delivery by Andy Davies, Gerry’s fabricator for week commencing 13 May) I’ve not riveted the offside footbox end panel in place.

I wanted to have the bulkhead panel drilled for the heater, and in doing so I actually fitted it (maybe not finally) in place. It’s a bit fiddly to install the necessary spacers. The heater’s from a Spitfire. It’s now arranged as a ‘fug-stirrer’ rather than a fresh air type, by spacing the inlet fan about an inch away from the bulkhead. Note that while the heater should be mounted reasonably high above the transmission bulge, it’s upper regions will have to compete for space with the wiper bundy tube. I’m not quite sure how this is going to fit yet, so hopefully I’ve erred on the side of caution when leaving space. Both the fan motor and the leak-tightness of the matrix have been tested.

I’m almost ready to install the engine and gearbox. I have to flood the oil pump with Vaseline to ensure it primes, and tighten down the cylinder head bolts. Then the engine has to be transferred from the stand to the trolley for the clutch and gearbox to be fitted. There isn’t room to fit the clutch assembly when the engine’s bolted to the stand.
14-16 May
Good news this week  -all the outstanding items from Gerry’s fabricator arrived on Tuesday – tank, pedal box, hood bows and frame and grille. Spent some time assembling the master cylinders to the pedal box, and also trial fitting the radiator, which arrived from MGBHive. Gerry’s radiator support panels need to be fitted to the inner front wings, then marked out in situ and removed to drill the holes for the radiator. I found a new 14” Pacet ‘sucking’ fan on ebay, which looks just the job.
22-27 May
My target for the end of May was to have the engine fitted. The heads were bolted down and carefully torqued, the oil pump opened up and all cavities filled with Vaseline. I hoisted the engine away from the stand and onto my tool trolley, where it sat a little precariously while I fitted the clutch, using a home-made (but very accurate) aligning tool.  The gearbox was then hoisted into position, and with a little jiggling the input shaft engaged in the spigot bush. I then realised I didn’t have any of the right bolts to fasten the two together (you need 6 x 3/8” x 2” UNC and 2 x 3/8” x 3” UNC). I managed to find a couple of studs and some Whitworth bolts which will be OK until the right ones come from Namrick. Fortunately everything’s quite accessible with the engine in place.
I’d originally planned to separate the body from the chassis before installing the engine and gearbox. This would have made the installation easier, but as it happened not that much easier. The length of the engine and gearbox is about a foot longer than the bonnet opening, so it has to be lowered on the slant, and then straightened as the gearbox enters the transmission tunnel. I’d placed a wooden trolley under the car to support the gearbox end, and this was moved back when the gearbox was lowered onto it. The final lift of the gearbox end was manual, to locate the 8mm threaded rubber bobbins in the holes provided in the chassis. The engine mountings were aligned behind the chassis brackets. This took a very small amount of persuasion, but to put them in front would have required more, and had the crank pulley practically in contact with the brake pipe running behind the front crossmember. However, looking at the gearbox mounts, they look slightly strained, as if the holes should have been slightly further back, though the end of the gearbox is very close to the chassis crossmember. Maybe a spacer under the bobbins would help?

I’d worried quite a bit about clearance under the bonnet for my 3” deep Edelbrock air filter. Gerry had given me the impression there was plenty of clearance when we first met him last October, and this was confirmed by approximate measurements before installation of the engine. Nevertheless, when fitted it looked high. I was quite surprised when the bonnet fitted perfectly, and when I investigated through the front grill opening (before fitting the radiator) I found I could wave a length of ½” dowel between filter and underside of the bonnet. Appearances can be deceptive!

I’d removed the gearchange extension before fitting the engine and gearbox. Looking at the gearbox in place it’s obvious the extension needs shortening, so this job will go on the list.
I fitted the fan to the radiator with the ‘quick-mounts’ supplied with it – it seemed a bit odd to be poking the plastic ties through the matrix, but after very slightly modifying the fan cowling to fit between the top and bottom header tanks, it all looks fine and the mod is invisible. It took a bit of time to accurately mark up and drill the radiator support brackets, jobs like this seem so straightforward but invariably are time consuming to get right.

Next job was the fuel pump. I wanted to do this before losing the little rubber isolation mounts! Now this really is a job which would have been much easier with the body off! I laboured for several hours on Sunday morning, after which I hadn’t got it fitted, only measured up for a mounting plate which I decided is needed. The problem is – when you keep the MGB lever arm shocks – the pump and the nearside shock absorber are competing for the same space, it’s very fiddly and then when I thought I had the pump mounted right, the shock absorber wouldn’t fit back without fouling the pump inlet connection. I’m now making a mounting plate which bolts to the original mounting holes but positions the pump further forward, closer to the glassfibre rear bulkhead. I’ll take a picture when it’s done.
I abandoned the rear end due to rain, and found a job I could do at the front of the car, nosed into the garage. The grill opening has to be trimmed back about ½” all round to clear the grill, and this needs a long blade on a jigsaw, and plenty of protective tape around the front of the car, as the jigsaw can’t sit flat on what it’s cutting. The flange through which you need to drill four holes to fix the grill in place is narrow, and I found only the bottom holes I drilled went through the fibreglass, the top ‘holes’ coincided with the edge of the trimmed fibreglass. I drilled some small pieces of aluminium to form ‘washers’ which when riveted through retained the grill in place firmly. The rivets can be easily drilled out for grill removal, which if I don’t need to do for the IVA I will for spraying.

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