Archive for the Tag 'Midget'

22 Apr 2017

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt

Pedal Box

The progress on the Midget continues, but pretty slowly. April has been quite cold and lots of showers/rain/freezing drizzle/snow – sometimes all in the same hour. This has stretched out the MG repairs by almost three weeks now. Well it’s not just the weather – there was some time spent shopping for new tools. The pedal box, clutch and brake pedals weren’t in very good shape, paint was shot and there was some rust. Since the shapes are complex I figured that wire brush and sandpaper was not going to work out too well. Clearly I needed to sand blast. And I don’t own a sand blaster.

First things first. Although “sand blasting” is the term most people know and use, the current term is “media blast”. Sand is not used much because it has health risks; you can get silicosis from breathing the dust from the shattered grains of sand. It also is less effective than a bunch of alternatives that are available, everything from baking soda to copper slag. I settled on an inexpensive siphon system rather than a blast cabinet. The cabinet would have been nice, but I don’t know how much sand blasting I’ll be doing and I really don’t have room in the garage anyway. My air compressor is also borderline for the required air flow and pressure. Blasting takes a lot of air. Even so, the inexpensive option still cost about $120 for the gun and container, gloves, particulate filter mask, eye protection and a 25kg bag of glass bead media.

The glass bead blasting, does do a pretty good job – for about 90 seconds, til the compressor tank pressure runs down and you have to give it time to catch up. Every minute of blasting needs about two minutes of compressor time, maybe more. And, the mess! I did the first tests just outside the garage in the alley. The breeze, though light, was an issue and I soon realized that a better approach would be needed. As it turned out, the answer was to set up the drill press with a wire wheel or cup and clean as much as possible on the parts. Then, the bead blasting was only needed to get the really tight, difficult areas. That allowed me to get the three parts all done with minimal effort. I also ran the air hose round to the sheltered area beside the garage (and kept the garage door closed) where I did the blasting in a big cardboard box. The mess was, more or less, contained that way.

Today, I was hoping to paint the parts. I picked up some primer, satin black and clear coat then spent some time cleaning, degreasing and masking. Unfortunately, the afternoon kept getting colder and then it started raining – not ideal for painting which needs some warmer temperatures and not too humid. The weather forecast for the next few days doesn’t look good, so I think this project will take a while longer yet.

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02 Apr 2017

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

06 Nov 2015

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt



Little British Car.

I’ve had my 1979 MG Midget for over 30 years now. I bought it in the spring of 1985 and, at first, it was a daily driver. However, the first serious cold snap that next winter made me re-think how practical that would be in Calgary. If it was colder than about -25C the carb would ice up and stop providing fuel to the engine within about 6 or 8 blocks of driving. So then it was my summer car, alongside a series of cheap winter beaters, for a few years. It was a great car in the mountains and I made a few trips to Vancouver Island in it. Eventually, after getting married and buying a house, it became the summer sports car and reigned supreme in the garage while the “other car” got the driveway.

For about 10 years it got plenty of use and was pretty reliable – particularly once I sorted out the Lucas ignition issues and removed the air pump. During our Cold Lake years there were lots of great memories and trips to Calgary or Edmonton. Eventually it had some gearbox issues which took a while to sort out and it started to take a bit of a lower profile as life got busier.

For two years in the late 90s my Dad had it while we lived in Australia. We came home to Calgary in 1998 when Steven was one and the demands of a growing family left less and less time to drive or maintain the MG and after about 2008, I was down to driving it a few hundred kilometers a year – just a few little day trips each summer. Last year was a bit of a low point, the only trip that I did was from Chestermere to the new house in Calgary – and a run to the local gas station to fill the tank before winter set in.

This spring I decided that it was time to get serious about the Midget. We are pretty settled in the new house, I have more free time due to cutting the commute in half and the kids are all plenty old enough to amuse themselves while Brenda and I go for an evening cruise in the MG. Only trouble was that 5 or 6 years of minimal use adds up to maintenance issues. In particular, the brake master cylinder had developed a leak and needed replacing. So I ordered a new master cylinder and a bunch of tune-up parts from the US and started to tackle the backlog of issues.

For less than $400, I have done an oil change, full tune up (plugs, wires, air filter…) and sorted out some suspension issues. I bought a bunch of car care products and have given it a polishing like it hasn’t had in ages. I figure that I’ve managed to drive at least a 1200 km over this summer and fall – it is a little hard to tell as one of the things that still needs fixing is the odometer – it stops turning when the speed is over 75 km/hr. Maybe that will be one of the winter projects to disassemble, clean and lubricate the speedometer. Next spring, brakes and rear suspension bushings are on the list, as well as figuring out why it is using up a bit of coolant.

All told, it has been quite a good season with more wind-in-the-hair driving than the previous five years combined.

Dave and Brenda (April1988)

2 April 1988 – the day Brenda and I got engaged

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