Lurking in the dark and filth beneath my MG has though been very therapeutic for someone more used to being hunched over a keyboard. Even though I’ve spent said time resembling someone who has been zapped by a terrible alien ray from the planet Elfansafetee.
Thanks to Jeff Marsh and the lads at Brabazon Motors, the MG’s clutch issue is now ancient history. A combination of worn Midget pedal-box and long off-the-road time meant that the existing master-cylinder was as effective as providing hydraulic assistance as a councillor attempting to run a bath.
The pedal-box had to be removed, which thanks to a pig-headed captive-nut, involved deft skilled use of an angle-grinder in the snug Midget footwell – where as yours sincerely would have doubtless got stuck and/or ended up cutting the car in half.
New master-cylinder fitted, pedal-box rebuilt (worn oval holes welded up and redrilled) and all repainted – it now really does show up the rest of the engine bay. Especially, given that when Jeff asked if I still had the inspection cover for the pedal-box (it is somewhere but resembles a squashed sardine tin that’s spent 40 years at the bottom of the North Atlantic) he decided to just make a new one instead.
When it comes to returning an oldie to the road after a long absence, I remembered the advice of Mad Mark. Don’t do it, unless the rust-proofing is all up together – or else it will fizz away faster than you can believe possible. Luckily for me though, Jeff – upon production of my Brizzle birth certificate – has let me use one of Brabazon’s ramps in their storage area, so I can have a damn good go at it.
Which is where we came in, with me resembling a rave refugee with full-fat middle-age spread. Scraping, wire-brushing, neutralising, painting, painting and painting some more. (I’m keeping it old school and finishing off with a coat of chassis black, rather than resorting to a wax-based product, so that I can paint over any future scrapes or stone-chips and it won’t dry out.)
As this car is – or will be – driven, I don’t really care about how pretty it is, but I do want it to be protected. The good news is that MOST of the Midget’s bottom is in really rather good health, especially its floors and its rear (the front cart-spring hangars are fine – despite being done before my time).
However, the same cannot be said for the front – or as Jeff put it: “I’ve got some bad news for you…”
It started when Jeff noticed that the anti-roll bar’s drop-links were rubbing against the front of the lower wishbone. (A worry, given that prior to it being laid-up, it only completed one journey with it fitted…) Anyway, just before Christmas, I asked him his opinion on the MG’s chances of passing its MoT. The question came about, after poking and prodding the front H-section or chassis legs (the Spridget is a semi-monocoque, similar to the Jaguar D-type in principle). One bit in particular, looked really unhealthy – but it was far worse than we thought.
Unsurprisingly, Jeff didn’t answer in the affirmative.
The H-section is essentially a pressed and spot-welded together box-section, (roughly consisting of a squared n-section welded on top of a plane piece of steel). However, the problems started before the bodyshells left the BMC assembly line, because the front-end of the H’s legs were then bent upward to dial in suspension castor – putting the welds under considerable strain and, in places, opening up the union ready for salt, water, mud and crap to come in and have a party.
This weakness is known – however, a bad situation has been made worse by the installation of a ¾ inch Race-spec anti-roll bar. The ARB’s mounting points on the H-section are woefully inadequate, because they are just spot-welded to the underneath of the legs without any reinforcement to what is thin-gauge steel.
All of which means that when the vibration and vast forces from the ARB were fed though the already weakened 1969 chassis legs, they have sheared and now look like a teenage corpse from a Seventies slasher movie…
Bad news indeed.