Three to Two, Jags

gunmetal grey E-type

Almost ready for assembly

Lots going on this week, not all of which will get covered here right now.

Jay from Windham Coach & Carriage called up this morning for an on-site consultation about the series 1 OTS which is pictured here.  Luckily I had the camera in my pocket, even if the lighting was less than ideal.  The color, in Spies Hecker, is enough to take your breath away.  This is a car which we’ll have delivered to the shop via enclosed transport, and the next-up item on the Agenda was a telephone consultation with our man Mike Savage about how to tie down a car with no suspension in it.

Rod's Towing of Putney, Vermont

Derek from Rods Towing ties down an MGB

Here’s an atypical scene: Rod’s Towing & Repair of Putney making ready to take a car out of here.  Usually they’re busy bringing them in.  Derek Winchester has just gotten done loading  the car, and if you enlarge the picture you can see that he’s used his nylon tie downs around the wheels, which is why we love them so much.  Every time a towing service shows up her with the “J” hooks over the rear axle we cringe because we know we’re gonna have to replace the rear brake pipes as well as fix whatever went wrong with the car.  A little extra attention, as seen here, goes a long way.

Clutch Hoses

Two MGB clutch hoses

Rod’s brought this MGB in on Tuesday after the clutch hydraulics stopped working, which was attributable to clutch master cylinder failure.  At first Butch and I tried to just bleed it off, unsuccessfully, and the large amount of black debris coming thru the bleed hose was quite remarkable.

So I changed out the clutch master & hose, and also re-kitted the slave cylinder.  Access to the clamping nut on the clutch hose on later MGB’s is gained by removing the starter,

MGB Starter

Starter In

MGB starter removed

Starter out

and access to get the starter out of the car is gained by removing the distributor.  It’s somewhat time consuming, which is why 40 years later it was still the original clutch hose.  Enlarge these pictures for a better view.

Back to the picture of the clutch hoses, those small black chunks in the foreground are the inner lining of the clutch hose in the lower part of the picture.  The other hose came out of another MGB a couple of weeks ago because pushing in the clutch pedal caused it to blow up like a balloon !

red series 2 E-type

Using the sun to stretch a top

The top on this red series 2 E-type hadn’t been up in years and it was a little reluctant to unfurl itself, which is why it’s parked outside on a sunny day.  Because Butch spent part of the afternoon putting a gear reduction starter in a series 1 3.8 car we can safely say we’ve had more contact this week with the mighty E-type than the immortal MGB.

Still sitting on the trailer, and lined up for next week, is something really interesting that those of you who were at the British Invasion of Stowe last weekend probably spent some time admiring.  Stay tuned !

Posted in This week at the shop | Comments Off

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.

Posted in This week at the shop | Comments Off

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

Posted in This week at the shop | Comments Off

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.

Posted in This week at the shop | Comments Off