Bearings & Brakes

MG TC on test

Portrait of Contentment

It’s another busy week.  We’ve rolled an Austin Healey, an Elva Courrier and the white Mini out the door, and thankfully not too much new work has come in, which is a good thing because we’re bumping right up against the British Invasion of Stowe this weekend.

The MG TC in this photo is bound for the Car Corral at the British Invasion, and it also features an inadvertant self-portrait.  That is your scribe looking back at you from just above the Moto-Meter.

wheel bearing puller in place

Wheel bearing puller in place

Yours truly did the service on the Austin Healey which was mostly the routine stuff, lights, horn, wipers, change the oil, check the gear lubes (which were O.K.)  and inspect brake linings and cylinders, which were also O.K.

There was, however, too much left front wheel bearing play for so I pulled the hub down for an  inspection which revealed that it was time to adjust the pre-load shimming and clean & repack the bearings.  In the interests of symmetrical repair, I also did the other side while I was at it although the right hand wheel bearing adjustment was fine.  The left hand inner bearing was a little reluctant to come off, but we dealt with it.

E-type front brake caliper

Evidence of deferred maintenance

Butch has just about wound up his work with the red series 2 E-type.  It’s a good car with a lot of deferred maintenance.  One of its less endearing characteristics was a tendency to pull to the left when the brakes were applied, attributable to a complete lack of hydraulic system service.  This is a front caliper and it was pretty filthy on the inside.  The fix has taken the form of a good cleaning and a trip thru the glass bead cabinet, an overhaul kit and three new stainless steel caliper pistons for each side.  We also painted them and replaced the brake hoses which after 45 years of service deserved to be retired.

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Short Note Before The British Invasion of Stowe

Butch installs E-type bal joints

Butch in a familiar position

I’m afraid I missed the major photo opportunity of the week Monday morning, which was an MGB clutch hose with a severe aneurysm.  When the clutch pedal was applied, the 40 year old clutch hose on the 40 year old MGB would blow up like a balloon just below the frame bracket.  Clutch operation was sluggish as you can well imagine.  R&R clutch hose is a tedious repair on an MGB (but not so on an MGA which uses the same slave cylinder & hose) and it is best helped along with a crow’s foot wrench.  The repair was successful, which left time for a full lubrication and examination of the brake cylinders and linings.  The R/H outer caliper piston was beginning to seize but we futured that repair until after the British Invasion.

U-joint zerk fitting

restricted access

driveshaft bolt removed

The work-around

While it was nice to see new universal joints with zerk fittings in the driveshaft, it was unfortunate that the installing technician didn’t give due consideration to future servicing.  At the front the zerk was accessable only with our NAPA grease gun extender for tight places.   At the back access was gained by removing the adjacent driveshaft bolt, all of which were installed the wrong way around. A trifling matter.

two master cylinder pushrods

Not close enough for government work

If you’re gonna replace thhe clutch hose, you might as well service the clutch linkages, right ?   As was no surprise, there was a huge amount of wear in the clutch master cylinder pushrod, clevis and clutch pedal.  I welded up the clutch pedal & re-drilled it and replaced the pushrod with its now football-shaped hole with a new one.  Unfortunately, because much of the british aftermarket now operates on the lowest common denominator model the pushrod clevis was too small for clutch pedal.

To solve this problem on a temporary basis I pulled one off a genuine Lockheed replacement clutch master cylinder (not Chinese) and reported my findings and this picture to the California-based vendor, which elicited this response:  ”I tried it on a car here.  It is admittedly snug but it fit.  I noted that as I tried it on different places on the pedal arm the fitment changed.  The pedal arm is doubtless not uniform.”  with 1/16th of an inch of interference “snug” is the operative word.

Innocenti Mini

Motoring journalist Dave La Chance

In other struggles this week I took a call from the owner of the MG TD with the formerly dropped valve to say that the car’s performance after the repair was falling off.  I retrieved it from Pernkinsville. Vermont, and based on his description of the problem took a guess and replaced the coil which resulted in a wonderous restoration of power.  Meanwhile in the first picture Butch can be seen wrestling ball joints into yet another E-type Jaguar, and lastly, HMN journalist Dave LaChance was here Friday morning to snap a few photos of the Innocenti Mini before it departs.  At the the time this picture was taken the odometer reading stood at 17,017 kilometers, believed by your scribe to be correct.

At the time

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Size Matters

white Mini

A classic shape

No Jaguar commentrary this week.  Ayuh, they’re still here, but we’re also working the other end of the spectrum, and although they only show up here sporadically, we have two Minis in the shop right now, the right hand drive car here and also an Innocenti.

The white car is in for  a routine service, Lube, Oil Filter, adjust timing & carb, check lights horn wipers.  In fact we thought we were all done, but we wern’t.

White Mini 1000


Mini "1001"


Butch road tested it to the Putney turn around and back, but I took it down to Westminster, and concluding that repairs were complete, I pulled it in the barn and parked it.  This may have been serendipity, because I noticed a strong aroma of very hot brake lining coming from the back of the car.  This was puzzling because we know the brake adjustment was correct and the hand brake mechanism wasn’t dragging.

Innocenti badge

Innocenti badge

One other thing we know is that one of the brake hoses on the front is new but the other one, as well as the rears, aren’t.  This is our next avenue of exploration.

Normally, Labor Day weekend isn’t travel time for us, but Friday was an exception, as we had one of our E-type owners flying in from Ireland to have a look at his car which is at the Auto Shoppe of South Burlington, after having been partially dismantled and abandoned by ‘Vermont’s Premier Automotive Restoration Shop’.  Because the Innocenti was near Burlington, this made a trip North viable, and I brought the car down to Westminster for a full pre-sale inspection.

948 Sprite engine

948 Sprite engine in fresh paint

From the early sixties to roughly the mid seventies, Innocenti built Minis under license from the British Motor Corporation, although they may be better know as manufacturers of Lambretta motor scooters.  Be that what it may, this one is a very well preserved car with virtually no mechanical faults beyond a bad shock on the right front, and it looks like its about to change hands and go to Seattle, Washington

Yesterday, I put what I thought was going to be final paint on the 948 Sprite engine, only to discover this morning that the oval flat washers for the timing cover and oil pan were still in the parts cart, primed and ready for installation.  That oversight rectified, this engine now has three coats of paint, and I think it looks very nice.

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E-type for E-type

XPAG TD engine

Going, but with a concern

Butch ran up the red MG TD which now has a full compliment of eight valves, an improvement over  the seven it had when we dismantled it.  We were pleasantly surprised when it fired on the first kick and ran pretty well, but it had a puzzling ticking sound that was inconsistent with normal XPAG engine noise.  Significantly,   Butch had also encountered some problems seating the valve cover.

If you take a quick look back at last week’s post you’ll notice that this car featured one of the myriad of aftermarket valve covers which were available for these engines.  This was suggesting a hither to fore unrecognized chain of events.

XPAG aftermarket valve cover

Weird scene inside the goldmine

So we pulled it off, and because XPAG’s flow a veritable ocean of oil to the valve train, Butch put a red shop towel across the rocker arms and fired it up again (the first photo was actually taken with the engine running), and Et Voila !   The noise was gone.  Now have another look at the valve cover.  Valve relief has actually been machined into the cover for #’s 1,2,3 & possibly 4.  But upon close inspection we realized that five thru eight also were showing contact.  This valve cover is now sitting on the work cart and my TC paint mask valve cover is currently in serice on this engine until the owner can get another one from Abingdon Spares.

compact "A" overdrive in an E-type

Yes, it fits

We try to put in about 42 productive hours every week, but this time of year especially, we seem to be on the go right thru the weekend, too.  Working downstairs on his own time, Patrick has conclusively proven that a late Jaguar 4 speed transmission equipped with the compact “A” series overdrive unit will fit into a series 3 V12 E-type without modification to the tunnel.  That overdrive unit is clearly visible in the rear of the tunnel in this picture.

Green E-type leaving


A red series 2 E-type arrives


On the seventh day I engineered a convenient series 2 E-type swap, leaving in the morning with a green one and returning in the afternoon with another one resplendid in the ‘Arrest Me Red” livery.  A brief road test of the red car suggests that some brake work may be in order as it definitely favors the left side of the road when footbrake is applied.  While I was out I also surveyed an Innocenti Mini on behalf of a prospective buyer from Seattle, and I’m guessing that by the next time you’re reading this it will be in Westminster, Vermont undergoing a thorough pre-sale examination.

Sequoia Cream MG TC

Why we live & work in Vermont. See this MG TC in the Car Corral at The British Invasion of Stowe

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