Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Arrival

So at long last my MG Midget has arrived at the workshop during the late hours of Monday night.

It was such a good feeling that I almost forgot how cold I was. Huge thanks must go out to my friend James Shopland who has helped me so generously and to Kim Dear of Magic Midget who has been very helpful and kind during this purchase.

I did have a better look over the car and there are certainly some bad areas that need attention, most of which I was already aware of, but on the whole there are many good points with the overall condition which has given me a real boost about this project.

The engine will definitely need an overhaul as we suspect it has seized, but there was some sort of oil in the sump so we are hoping that it is down to the fact that the engine has not been started in years, rather than mechanical failure. Have to wait and see on that one.

So now the stripping down and documenting beings! (click on images to enlarge)
MG Midget 1965 MKII MG Midget 1965 MKII

MG Midget 1965 MKIIMG Midget 1965 MKII

MG Midget 1965 MKIIMG Midget 1965 MKII

MG Midget 1965 MKII MG Midget 1965 MKII

Thursday, 1 November 2012

So what's the plan

With the imminent arrival of my MG Midget, I would like to capture my thoughts about my plan for this lovely classic car. For it will either be a complete failure, which will result in selling the parts as spares due to a totally rusted out chassis, or go according to plan with some ups and downs along the way. If there is a god, please now let them hear my prayers!

I can't help sound foolishly naive but the plan is basically to strip her down all the way back to the bare chassis and rebuild. I found this photo which goes to some way in explaining what I am hoping to get to over the next few months.

And now and spiritual quote for all car restorers out there...

"Refitting - Reverse the removal procedure"

Now I have owned a couple of Haynes manuals over the years to save some money from the annual service and I know only too well that those words are more often than not a complete joke.

I am fully aware that for someone as inexperienced as myself to get to this point requires a lot of dedication, patience and skill, but the way I look at it, the most important part is recording and documenting the disassembly of this vehicle.

Noting what each piece is and how it was attached to the chassis and what else was connected to it will help me understand how I am going to put it all back together. Every part will be assessed and graded as 'OK', 'restore' or 'replace'. (not counting on too many OK's) I will of course be very reliant on friends and the online community on how to restore the parts that can be, as well as understand how to replace the parts from their recently scrapped predecessors.

I will have to learn new skills, especially I am sure in MIG welding. But one of the skills that I am sure I will be subcontracting out is the finishing. You cannot beat a professional paint job even though it will cost probably way more than I originally paid for the car, but I know it will be worth it.

I did note that the speedo read around 44,500 miles. I will need to find out if this is genuine or not, hopefully to log book will revival all. If the car is that low mileage after 47 odds years I do still want to tackle the engine. What is the point of not taking it apart to make sure that something isn't going to fail because I didn't do a proper job. There is also the massive satisfaction that I did in my life rebuild an engine. Of course help will be needed...I think timing is kind of important??

That sums up my whole approach to this project. If you're going to do it, do it properly in the first place, once and once only!  I cannot bare the thought of driving down the road knowing that I cut a few corners.

I'll upload some photos on Monday evening when we will hopefully have her in the workshop.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The waiting

I think it is the right thing to do, whilst I wait for my new MG Midget restoration adventure to start, to explain exactly what is running through my mind. Certainly a massive sense of excitement and eagerness to get underway stands at the forefront, but there are many other worries that confront me. 
MG Midget 1965 MKII
I cannot help feeling that I am not the first to experience this. Having not properly looked over the vehicle due to wearing a nice suit at the time and the sheer lack of space in the garage, I am more trusting in my wanting to achieve something from all of this. I cannot but help feel the pressure from within myself to succeed, especially when my father took so many years to complete his restoration of an MG TC and when you commit to a decision like this, there is an enormous sense of scepticism that I might have bitten off more than I can chew. 

Over the past few weeks I keep recalling the countless pictures of MG Midgets with completely rusted sills, bonnets, wings, wheel arches, doors, suspension mounts and floors etc... It is important to note that the closest I have ever come to welding was during my school years. During craft, design and technology classes I managed to braze a few lengths of steel together to make a strange exterior metal spotlight. At the age of sixteen I was very impressed with this. I somehow even managed to get my highest GCSE grade, a 'B'! As an adult, my metal work as progressed to extending the heating system in my home. Not exactly 'MIG' welding standards.

MG Midget 1965 MKII Yet here I am on the verge of taking on one of the most complex engineering projects of my life. How many reading this can provide the number of parts that make up a Midget, let alone in what order to assemble them. The measurements, calculations, experience and skill that is required to restore a classic car is in itself hugely daunting. 

However there is something there. Something that tells me this is a journey worth taking. Because if I take my time, if I tackle each task carefully with the care and dedication that I have so far bestowed on my own devotion to my family, then I am happy in the thought that once I put my mind to something, even as complex as this, with the support of my friends, family and reliance on complete strangers from the world of online forums, I will be successful.

The Midget arrives week commencing 5th November 2012. Let the sparks of reconstruction begin!!

Monday, 15 October 2012

The search!

So now I had to find the car for me!

It needed to be British, sporty and something I could get spares for.

Scrolling through the list of classic sports cars made me really think about what I wanted from my selection criteria.

It ended up between Triumph and MG, with MG winning because of my previous experience.

This led me to looking at basically two types, the MGB GT and the MG Midget.

I wanted to find models prior to the 'rubber bumper' era and certainly if I found a MGB GT it would have to be without a leaking sunroof!

But deep down in the back of my mind was that vision of driving my wife around the beautiful Somerset countryside with the top down, which meant Midget or MGB Roadster and the chances of getting a Roadster were slim on my budget.

Now the biggest issue was the budget, I am not made of money, nor have vast savings to call on. That left me with less than £1,000 to spend.

So the Midget it was then!!

I spent the next few week trawling through countless websites. Here are some of them which link directly to 'MG Midget' search results:



After some considerable time and a lot of frustration I just couldn't find one in my budget or close enough to pop over to check out.

Then one day I found a little ad with no pictures on this website: www.mgcars.org.uk, just a small description which read:

1965 Midget Restoration project. Too many projects, too little space/time!

Correct 10cc engine, Wire wheels (were restored but paint flakey) New Dunlop tyres, new fuel tank, has had o/s sill replaced, but needs n/s sill and n/s floor, rear wings pretty good, dashboard all present/unmolested, correct seats need redoing, does'nt have front wings fitted, but comes with good s/h units, bonnet poor, correct doors and door furniture. Has been sat in dry garage for several years, so abit dusty/grubby. originally BRG, Aftermarket hardtop Would make great FIA racecar!. £750 ono

This seemed like a potential candidate, so I sent an email and to my joy the car was still there and it was only an hour away. So off I went and this is what I found....(click on images to enlarge)

MG Midget 1965 MKIIMG Midget 1965 MKII
MG Midget 1965 MKIIMG Midget 1965 MKII

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Am I mad?

The best place to start is always at the beginning and for me that would be when I was about five years old. I can still clearly remember sitting on my Dad's 1945 MG TC chassis (no body attached) with a massive steering wheel in my hands (not attached), peering over the engine (not running) pretending to be in some race.

Some 25 years later I was delighted when my Dad told me that he had finished it and a trip over to France confirmed that he had and I was blown away by the dedication that he must have had to complete the work.

Sadly though it was not running and I have yet to complete a dream of mine to ride with my Dad in that lovely TC.

So with that in mind some of you will realise that when you have the bug there is not much you can do about it. It just sits there in the back of your mind festering and having a brain that likes to works things out and fix things mechanically, only adds to ones impression that restoring a classic car is certainly the right thing to do at some point in your life.

So at the age now of 37, married with two young boys to keep me busy, I have been asking myself is this the right time? But when is the right time and how will I know?

A few things have recently helped me to make my decision. Firstly (and certainly the most important) I have been spending the last few years being the best dad and husband that I can and it is not unreasonable to decide that I should have some focus and time dedicated to my own personal development. Doing something that is going to make a difference (in a good way) to my own life and those around me. 

Some will say that spending hours locked away in a garage and throwing money left, right and center at a project is not the best for family stability. But carefully managing ones time between the family and personal interests is the key. For my boys, I want to show them that there is more to life than TV and computer games. For my wife, that one day in the not too distant future I can take her for a drive on a warm summers day with the top down!

The next point that helped me make the decision, was totally down to a good friend who has been more than generous in letting me the use of a workshop. Without this crucial part I would not have this opportunity without moving to a house that had a garage. No chance of that in the next few years.

So there we have it, I am mad or has an opportunity presented itself in a way that was always meant to happen now? Probably both, but I will make sure that I try to enjoy myself along the way and writing this blog will hopefully help me keep a track of what is important during this process. 

I will try to post pictures and detail the challenges that face me on a regular basis.

Mmm...think I had better find a car!!