Friday, 25 July 2014

Brake noise on the rear axel and MOT

Since last year, I haven’t done any work in the car. The car is very mechanically sound, so every weekend I use it with my family. Since I restore it some nearly 3 years ago, the car has only given me good moments, and not a single real problem has occurred. 

One month ago I started to hear a rubbing noise coming from the rear axel, some metal scratching against an other. I touched one the rear left brake drum and it was veeery hot, while the right one was cold, so it was obvious the was a brake problem.

After removing the wheel and brake drum, the problem was that one of the brake pads had not pad on one side, and the metal structure was rubbing the brake drum. Looks like the brake pad was not perfectly fitted, and had excessive wear on one side. 

I ordered at moss a new brake pad kit, and also all the springs. It was an opportunity to fit as many new parts as possible, so fitting new springs was mandatory. I also took the opportunity to fit new rubber covers for the emergency brake leavers. The brake pads actuators where removed, and the cone pins where cleaned and re greased, as one of them was rusty and would hardly move, making the brake pad adjustment difficult. 

Once all was fitted, no more noise.

Today, I have gone to pass the MOT and passed it with good mark! This is a nice photo with the MOT sticker  for next year, and the latest one it had in its previous life: 20 years from one to other. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

How to resize large images to upload

I have read that many people do have problems to resize or lower the size of big size photos to be able to upload them to the forums. Some forums only admits 2 megas or less per photos and most of the actual digital cameras will output larger images.

If you only have to reduce size for one image, you can use Paint, but when you have to reduce 10-20 images, then you have a problem.

I too had this problem and found a nice tool that has helped me ever since. It's the program called ArtResize, which is freeware and can be download from plenty of web sites. Just google ArtResize to find it.

This program not only enables you to reduce the size of a photo, but lets you select between many different preselected sizes and specially will let you work with bunches of photos at the same time. In 10 seconds you can automatically reduce the size of 30 photos for example.

A nice little program that really makes a great job.

Well woth!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

How to install a Sprite mk3 or Midget mk2 soft top

Once I had all the necessary components to fit the soft top (see previous post), I was ready to install it.

The sprite mk3 or midget mk2 soft top is unique and different from previous and later mk’s. Later ones have a foldable structure, and early ones have different removable structure layout. The are some videos on youtube and reports on mgexperience about fitting it, but all of them cover the later ones and no one has ever made a full detailed report for my model.  

I had never fitted a soft top and although the spridget one is supposed to be a very easy one, I was not feeling comfortable doing it myself. So I searched for help from one of the most well known upholstery specialist in Madrid: Artemóvil. When I used to work at the RR & Bentley dealer, we normally used their service and knew what they are capable of, so I was confident I would get a good result. Artemóvil has been on the business for many decades, and they specialize in complete classic car retrim work. At their facilities you can see anything from very old prewar classic cars, to ultra rare or expensive modern cars.

They kindly let me help with the installation and they allowed me to make a full review of the process taking loads of photos so I could share them.

Firstly, we marked the center of both the header rail and the soft top, folding this later one in 2 in order to mark it. It's important to place a rug on top of the bonnet if you are going to work over it.

Next, the soft top was placed over the top structure, and the header rail was attached to the wind screen (with no rubber seal). Contact glue was applied with a brush just over the header rail.

The glue they always use, after trying many different brands, is Gomafer, a very well known and classic contact glue brand in Spain.

Then the soft top was positioned over the header rail for only a few seconds, taking care to match both center marks. When positioning the soft top, we had to stretch it as best as we could.

After a few seconds, the soft top was removed, revealing the contact zone between the soft top and the header rail. Then the soft top was covered with a layer of contact glue. A second layer was also applied to the header rail.

A special heat lamp was used for four minutes in order to soften the soft top front and middle part. Using a heat gun for this porpoise would be impossible in as much as it only heats one area at a time, but this lamps can heat the entire area.

Then the soft top was finally placed over the header rail, stretching the top wich was then very soft.   Placing the top is the most critical stage and you have to do it right the first time. A lot of force has to be done to stretch the top correctly, and using the center marks is important for perfect alignment. Once placed, the top was rub down  against the header rail so that the glue would sticks perfectly.

Fitting the header rail clamps was important so the top did not move.

After a few minutes the header rail could be unclamped and glue was applied to the zone where the metal strip and rubber seal was placed. Glue was applied to both the header rail and the top.

Soft top excess could now be cut, without trimming too much.

Next, the aluminum rail was placed over the header rail and a small screw driver was used to mark and punch the holes on the soft top where pop rivets would be placed.

Once all the pop rivets were placed, an exacto blade was used to carefully trim the rest of the soft top, up to the aluminum rail, making a nice finish. Then the rubber seal could be hand pressed over the aluminum rail with the aid of a screw driver.

Following, the soft top was placed again and the header rail clamps adjusted to give a perfect fit.

At this stage the hard work was done, and all that remained was installing the tenax, durable dot and eyelets. Installing this was just a matter of stretching the side panels of the soft top and marking with a pen the position of the holes. Then with a specialized tool they made the holes and pressed down the durable dot fasteners with a hand press.

The tenax  wasjust screwed in place with a special tool that makes it easy.

And the eyelet was fixed by folding down its four tabs.

After nearly 2 hours of work the soft top was finally installed. The result was superb and now I can drive the car safely knowing that in case it starts raining I can quickly raise the top and continue driving.

Thanks Juan for your help! TOP JOB!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Preparing the soft top components: rear bar and header rail

The sprite once had a soft top, but Lady X told me it was lost years ago on a house move. Fortunately, the hood sticks where present on the boot. The sticks where very tatty, and with a broken hinge they needed some restoration that was made last year. Final result after painting them with RAL 7000mid gray, was perfect.

I have been one year driving the car with both the hard top in winter, and the tonneau cover the rest of the year, but a soft top was mandatory. To use a soft top I needed:
-the hood sticks: which I already had restored
-the rear metal plate to hold the top in place: which was lost with the top
-the front header rail: which I also didn’t have as its permanently attached to the top, and also lost
-the top its self: which was also lost

So I had to start searching for all the missing parts keeping cost at a minimum.

The rear metal plate was not available new, as it is always supposed to be reused when fitting a new top. A nice person of the mgexperience forum (thanks BillM)was kind enough to trace his plate on a long sheet of paper and send it by mail.

I just glued the paper to a 3mm and 1 meter long steel plate and with the angle grinder I cut the long shape.

Next step was to source a second hand header rail. After much searching, I got in contact with Phil from WelshMG who had in stock a good used one. Incredibly he also had in stock some new tops at a bargain price, so I made an order for both and other parts such a pair of securon seat belts. But the issue of the top will be explained later on.

Once the header rail arrived I could take a closer look. Overall condition was good, but most of the metal had surface rust. I removed the worn rubber seal, drilled all the small pop rivets to remove the aluminum plate and sent the rail to the blaster so he could clean it.

After sand blasting, the rail was primed and painted with the usual RAL 7000 paint I found to be so similar to the original cumulus gray. The result was an “as new” header rail. I was very proud for the result.

Have to note that the header rail I received, must have been new spare part on the MK4 sprite-mk3 midget era for the early mk3sprite-mk2 sprite. Why? Original tops for the mk3 sprite was a removable top, whether the top the post mk4 sprite cars where folding ones. The original header rails for the removable top had no screws to be attached to the top stucture, wheter the later ones had 3 screws on either side to attach it to the structure (see previouse image). But my header rail had plastic plugs covering the holes, so it clearly indicates that BMC had 2 part numbers for the same header rail, one for the early version and one for the later version, both comming with the holes and plugs, and if it was intended for a later version you just had to remove them.  

Now I had all the elements to fit the soft top and have it ready for a summer trip I want to make with the car.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Radiator shroud repair and air filter stickers

Spring is here again, and its time to continue with all those small weekend projects I didn’t finish.

Some time ago I discovered a strange noise coming from the engine bay. I was some kind of "grrrrrr" sound but only made on certain rpms, specially at high idle.

After checking all the components, I found what the problem was. The radiator shroud is soldered on several points to the radiator itself. Three of this solders where broken making the metal shroud to vibrate.

The fix was easy, I just had to resolder those points. To do so, I scrapped the old solder points to remove the paint, then applied some soldering flux, and used a home kitchen gas torch and some 5% silver solder rod (same used to solder copper tubes). The result was good and I just need to repaint the area with some matt black paint to finish it.

Months ago I bought from Classic Repro some tickers and a new chassis plate, to give the perfect final touch to my car. Believe it or not, I just never found the moment to fit the nice Cooper stickers on the carb air filters, so now was the moment. Placing the stickers on some warm water would make the parts to separate and I was able to fit them precisely.

Now the engine bay has the perfect touch and finish with those lovely yellow Cooper stickers.

Just compare them with the original situation!!!

Finally I made some cleaning inside, and used some metal polish to clean the dial bezels, which proved to be so effective.  

Years of crud are easily cleaned and the chrome parts now look almost new.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Six steps of successful brazing

Most classic car enthusiast are mechanically or craft minded. Apart from cars, they will normally have other likes and soldering correctly is an important skill for plenty of DIY projects.

Silver soldering and bracing is an important method for DIYers as it is cheap and makes very strong joints.
Al always, practice is important and I have just found a superb video explaining the technique with a great detail and educational view.

The video was made by Johnson Matthey soldering division (UK), which has a large amount of different silver rods and fluxes for all materials. The video is available both in English and Spanish.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I have:

I will shortly order some rods and flux to practice as I have the intention of a mid term project consisting in a tubular stainless steel frame for a radio control model airplane fuselage

10.000 visits and increasing!

Hurray! the blog has achieved the great success of receiving more than 10.000 visits since it first started in mid 2011

I really hope you have enjoyed all my posts, full of details of the problems I find and how I solve them with my limited time, budget, space & knowledge. I really feel most of the classic car enthusiasts are like me and wont be able to make full restoration, but want to keep their car in the best situation as possible.

I will continue sharing all my progress and findings, hopping maybe one or two can find it useful and learn something new.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Before and after

Believe it or not, the heater fan assembly was restored more than one year ago, summer 2011, along with the heater matrix.

I had to install at the very beginning the heater matrix to the engine, so I could start the engine, not having to mess around after with draining coolant to be able to install it.

But the heater fan was stored in a box, as I needed space on the engine bay to work (paint, solenoide, etc, etc). But now that the car is in running condition (have done 500km so far) and winter is at the next corner, I had to fit it. As long as out side temp is 10º C or above, the car can be used with the top down, but having the heater on is a plus as it will make a sort of hot air bubble inside the car that will make it much more comfortable.

So I used a Sunday evening to seat it up. Installation is a reverse procedure to dismantling (have read too many Haynes manuals!!!), but it's true. Connected the bullet and earth cable, and screwed the heater flap valve control cable. I was lucky as the heater rubber duct is in great condition, so just a little bit of clean with some APC. Also the cardboard connecting tube between the heater fan and the flap valve was in not too bad condition, so i also reused. It's lovely to see how so many parts can be reused keeping a very original appearance.

Fortunately the cable switch worked from the first moment, So I didn’t have to remove it to restore it, so for the moment I will reuse it.

I really have to say that I was impressed when I took a photo after the fan installation, and compared it with some original photos I made at the very beginning. I really shows a lot of work in small details, very easy to make, and that make a huge difference when opening a bonnet to the general car appearance.

I see too many owners spending a lot of money on improving mechanical things of their car, but wont invest any time in just tidying up the engine bay. I really encourage them to do so, its a very rewarding effort, easy, that in most cases can be done in the kitchen as a winter project.

Judge by your self!!!

Original situation:


And the latest situation

And more work to be done!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Order is vital

Time ago, watching the great "Is Born" series, particularly A Plane Is Born, Mark Evans was talking about the importance of workshop order, and showed a neet way of tidying up all the spare parts that would help easy and rapid location and identification.

As all my parts are stored in small plastic bags, I just pinned them on a big cork board, with a label indicating the part number and description.

A good idea is also to group parts of the same familly together on the same area, all groomets, all screws, all nuts, etc. That way, locating a part is easy and fast.

It is a real good way of getting a visual overview of all your spare parts, and it´s great to see how week after week the board becomes more and more empty, meaning the car is going the right way on its restoration.