02 Apr 2017 03:10 pm

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt

No Fool

… like an April Fool!
However, unlike some people or companies, like WestJet, with their clever April Fool’s Day gags, I chose to celebrate the day differently. The first of April is the anniversary of the day that I purchased my MG Midget back in 1985. In the intervening 32 years, I’ve driven it a lot or a little depending on the demands of family life and the vagaries of 70’s era English engineering and manufacturing. After a pretty good year in 2015, last year was dismal as both life and British reliability took a major toll on sports car usage.

I took it out last year at the end of March and after a quick spin around the neighbourhood, discovered a small coolant leak in one of the heater hoses. Not too serious, and despite having been unemployed for six months at that point the repair could be squeezed into the budget. But I didn’t get after the repair right away and, a few weeks later I went to start the car again and the clutch pedal went straight to the floor – no pressure at all. No obvious signs of leaking – until I jacked the car up and the underside of the transmission around the slave cylinder is all wet, and it seems clear that the slave cylinder is having issues. Given that replacing the slave without attending to the master cylinder is a recipe for doing the job twice, the whole hydraulic system would probably need replacing. But not right away. Austerity measures were in full force by early summer of 2016 and the job market was still flat.

So, now that the car has been up on jack stands, patiently waiting for some attention for many months – the temperature in the garage finally was warm enough to lie on the concrete (using 2 luxurious layers of cardboard for comfort) and tackle the job. And, that’s just what I did yesterday. On the 32nd anniversary of purchasing the Midget, I pulled the slave cylinder out. And the ignition electrics. And the brake master cylinder. And the clutch and brake pedals. And the pedal box. And then, finally, the clutch master cylinder. And, during the 7 hour process, I soundly disparaged the intelligence, character and parentage of the English designers at British Leyland and MG.

For you see, there are 2 captive bolts on the pedal box that the clutch master cylinder (CMC) flange secures to with 2 nuts, one above and one underneath the CMC. But because the CMC reservoir is a tin can soldered to the body of the master, and the pedal box rail is right there, no tool in my possession can both get onto the diabolical lower nut and have enough room to turn. Searching the internet wasn’t all that helpful, this appears to be everyone’s experience. Some have success with bending, hammering and grinding an old wrench into shape; or they have magical thin walled sockets, adapters and double-jointed wrists. Most seem to suggest loosening the pedal box (held on by 2 screws + 3 bolts + 2 difficult bolts + 1 stupid bolt), to gain a little room underneath.

But, no. Not so fast there, young apprentice. The routing of my brake lines prevents me from lifting the pedal box enough. So now it is decision time. If I pull the lines off the brake master cylinder (BMC) then I’ll need to bleed the brakes. And I have, as a separate project (not this weekend!), the job of doing the brakes on all four corners, so that means the clutch and brake jobs would have to be completed before the first run of the season. But, no amount of wiggling will gain the room I need to get to the diabolical nut. So, off come the brake lines. And then, finally, I can get a wrench on the diabolical nut and off comes the clutch master.

Success Level: Pyrrhic.

By this point I’ve gone far enough that I am starting to realize how grotty the whole pedal box area is and decide that, since this is completely out of hand now, I might as well pull the pedal box and clean up that whole area. So off come the pedal springs, then the clutch pedal and finally the pedal box. So now, to fix the clutch hydraulics, I have to:

  1. clean up the pedal box (sandblast? powdercoat?)
  2. fix up the pedal pivot (new pivot bolt?)
  3. front brakes (rotors, calipers, pads and brake lines)
  4. rear brakes (cylinders, shoes, brake line)
  5. reinstall the master cylinders to the pedal box
  6. install the clutch slave cylinder
  7. reinstall the pedal box
  8. hook up the brake and clutch lines
  9. bleed the clutch and brakes
  10. fix other stuff that goes sideways in the meantime
  11. Comments Off on No Fool

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