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February 2006

I finally got the engine running a couple of days after my 33rd birthday! I had a few dramas
though. I turned the engine over on the starter with the plugs out to get up oil pressure
but none registered. Puzzled I decided to unscrew the oil filter to see if that had oil
in it. I turned it a bit and some oil spilled out onto the garage floor. I thought I
better tidy that up so I grabbed a rag and bent down to mop it up and suddenly I find I
am going to need a bigger rag. As well as the little splash from the oil filter there
was about another 3 litres of oil all over the floor. I had a close look at the block and
found when I had assembled the engine I had left out one of the oil gallery plugs. Oil was
pouring from there. Luckily I noticed before the thing was dry so no damage was done. I
carefully ground down the front plate just enough to get the plug in and hammered that home.
Once that was sorted I tried getting oil pressure again. I had to replace the old gauge
hose with my new ones and then it worked fine. I put the plugs back in and pushed the
button and the car pretty much started right up! I did the 20 minute run in although I had
to keep stopping. First because the radiator fan switch blew out spraying coolant everywhere
except on me luckily enough. This is a common problem on later MGs and it really is a
stupid design. I am changing that part of the car and using a more modern sensor and switch.
I also thought the car was overheating so I would stop and let the temperature creep down
again. I later found it was really the gauge reading too high due to the voltage stabliser
not being earthed. It seems to run very well and I just need to tweak the timing and then
tune the carbs.

I got myself a Pertronix ignitor which is a little magnetic device that replaces the old
mechanical points. I stripped my distributor and ended up replacing the two plates in it
with cleaner, non rusty ones from a junk yard distributor I had. Once greased up and back
together with the Pertronix installed I tried it out on the car. It really made the timing
a lot more stable. The good thing about this sort of module is if it ever goes wrong you
can just put back the original points.

Unfortunately while testing the new ignition I noticed something. A slight coolant drip above
the number 2 plug. I had seen it before and cleaned it off thinking it was water for when
the fan switch blew. But no, it looks like my head is cracked. I took off the rocker cover
and it seems there is a crack there. I think it has been welded in the past since it looks
ground down there. I guess it wasn't visible when I rebuilt the head months ago but now I
have had the car running it has opened up. Not sure what to do now.

March 2006

This is the aftermarket fan switch which uses a sensor in the top radiator hose. It is able
to be adjusted so you can set the point the fan switches on. Also visible is my fix for
the annoying old fan switch. I machined up a plug to fit in it's place and I tapped a
hole in the back of it. I then made a bracket that goes over the top tank of the
radiator. A bolt goes through that into the back of the plug to hold it in place. There
is no way for that to pop out now.

April 2006

This is the pressure differential warning actuator. A fancy name for the brake failure switch.
It lives inside the brake master cylinder and it's job is to light a warning light if
one half of your braking circuit fails. Only as you can see there are two types! The one one
the right is the one from my master on the car. The one on the left is from my old master
cylinder. Unfortunately the grey 'switch' broke on mine. The thread sheared off. It isn't
actually a switch but just a metal pin stuck through a plastic body with a terminal. When I
ordered a new switch from Neville the one he sent up (which the manuals say to use) is the
one on the left. Unfortunately you can't mix and match switches and shuttles. The one on the
uses an actual switch that is normally closed. When the system is working normally the switch
is kept pressed down (and therefore off) by the ring in the middle of the shuttle. If one side
of the brakes fail the shuttle slides over and the switch pops up and closes. Also the switch
effectively stops the shuttle from moving back into position. That's why the manual says to
unscrew it when bleeding the brakes. It's so you don't get it stuck to one side or the other.
The type I have doesn't have that problem since there is no ring. I guess the warning light
is lit by the shuttle earthing the 'switch' pin to ground.

I did try putting the left hand shuttle and switch into my master cylinder but it always seemed
to leak despite having new o-rings (which keep brake fluid out of the switch and more importantly
keep air out of the system). When I put back the original parts no leak. I think I am going to
have to reuse my old switch, which hopefully I can glue together, or simply lose the switch and
plug the hole in the cylinder with a bolt.

Finally work starts on my new garage after Auckland City Council sat on there arses for five
months or so. No wonder we had leaky buildings. By the time the council does anything the
bloody timber is probably already rotting! I had to go to the council office to collect the
signed off plans and I swear there were council workers there moving so slowly they had
cobwebs on them! Anyway, site prep has begun and I am hoping the concrete will be laid this
week. Once that is dry it shouldn't take long for the garage itself to go up. One interesting
thing is the number of letters I have had from sparkies offering to wire the thing for me.
It is something I will need doing and one included a handy price list which gives me an idea of
the costs. The letter I don't understand is the one from a garage door company. Do they think
I am buying a brand new garage and I forgot to order a door? That one makes no sense.

I also finally got the brakes bled and working. Still had trouble with the back ones and ended up
using an oil can with brake fluid in it to pre-fill the pipe from the master cylinder end. Without
doing that I was just pushing air about. I just thought maybe I was not using my one man bleeding
kit properly and I should have had fluid in it to start off with! Oh well, it works now. I also
adjusted the handbrake. I then celebrated by taking the car for her first ever drive! Well, I went
forwards and backwards about 12 inches. But it proves the engine and drivetrain all work as well
as the brakes. That really is my first ever drive in her. She broke down as soon as I got her and
I stripped her right away so I never did drive her. Not even a test drive. Obviously I need to work
on the wiring next. That mess of wires is my temporary wiring just to get the engine running. The
best thing is she was so smooth. No trouble shifting gear. No clunks on take up. Just a nice,
smooth action.

May 2006

I got the dash back from Neville who wrinkle painted it for me. It came out great! Much more consistent
finish than I ever got. I have done a quick assemble of it to see how it should look in the car.
Since this is all custom made I had to use small fibre washers under the switch nuts so I didn't
scratch the paint. I also discovered I can use rubber o-rings under the other switched and choke.
The o-rings stop the paint getting scratched and you can do things up tight against them and hopefully
they will stop things coming undone. The gauges are for oil pressure, water temp, RPM, vacuum, speed,
fuel and volts. The lights are all LEDs except the ignition light since that is special. Since that
is between the alternator and battery current can flow both ways through it. An LED is polarised so
can only be wired up one way. I simple chopped off the wires to the red LED and will use a standard
bulb in behind it wired in the usual way. The red LED works as a lens in front of the bulb and so
lights up when the bulb does.

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Copyright © 2004-2009 Simon Jansen