Friday, 13 May 2022

New Paint

For the last couple of weeks my MG Midget has been in the paint shop. 

I'd like to thank Jason Leverett and his dad Chris for taking on the job. 

Jason runs his own paint shop business called Scratch and Scrape and from time to time takes on jobs from his dad Chris who runs an MG Repairs company here in Somerset.

Jason very kindly agreed to send me photos during the transformation and I have to say I take my hat off to these very skilled professionals. The amount of work that needs to go into a project like mine to get it looking as good as it does is easily overlooked.

The car is coming back next week and I am so excited to start rebuilding it, but for now here is some photos of the hard work that Jason put in.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Paint Shop Preparation

It has been six months since my last post and whilst it has been quiet here on my blog I've been hard at work in the garage preparing the MG Midget for paint as best I can.

The point of this blog was always to share my experiences in restoring the car, both good and bad and in the last 6 months there have been a few challenges. 

The main one was the bonnet. When I bought the car it didn't have a bonnet. I was told it was too far gone. So I bought a reasonable second hand one on ebay and spend a load of time restoring it, which you can read about here: Bonnet Repairs.

After all that work it went to the blasters along with everything else. When it came back they told me they couldn't strip all the paint off as the panel was vibrating and there was a real danger of warping the metal, so I had to strip the paint off, which you can read about here: Stripping Bonnet.

It was after this stage that I noticed near the top of the bonnet's main panel the strength had gone so you could easily press the panel down with the slightest touch of your finger like when you press the lid of an open jam jar. 

Something in the trade called oil canning:

The movement of a perceived flat surface due to the application of an external force. Caused by unequal stretching of the material inside the surface of the panel while retaining the perimeter.

I am not 100% sure if this was caused by the sand blasting or was there from the beginning or was caused by my work on the nose section. Either way I spent too many hours to think about trying to correct this. This included trying to learn shrinking metal with heat and water, heat and cold air. Trying out hammer and dolly techniques. All of which resulted in a bonnet that went from this:

to this!

It looks at lot worse that it actually is, it still fitted the chassis very well. The oil canning had gone and most of the high spots were sorted. It just needed more time in the paint shop with a professional to finish off. And that was the problem, it would take quite some time to get perfect and that costs money.

So I took the decision to see if there were any better panels out there that would take less time and save me some money in the long run. 

You can buy a new heritage bonnet for around £700, but buying a second hand bonnet is more like a lottery. In the end I did find one that was described as solid and came with a solid boot lid as well for £75. Thought I would risk it.

Well it turned up and I immediately started to remove all the filler around the nose! It turned out it had a repair done on the nose. I was quite disappointed, as whilst it was a solid repair it didn't look at neat as my repair on the other bonnet.

So now I had to make a decision of which one to use. I asked my paint guy Jason to come round and we decided to go for the one I had just purchased with the new nose job. He said it would be easier to work on and it was off an earlier 1967 Midget whereas the other one was from much later. So it sort of felt right for that reason and had the correct bonnet stay rod brackets. I had to make my own and weld them on to the other one.

The bonus of getting the other boot lid was that it was in really good shape with no rust at all! So after stripping the paint back I decided to use that one instead of the original. I had done so much welding on the original boot lid the panel wasn't perfect and again my paint guy Jason said it would save loads of time and money trying to get it perfect.

So after probably hundreds of hours trying to restore these panels do I consider them wasted?

Well yes and no to be honest. I wanted to learn new skills and experiences during this restoration. I've learnt about metal shrinking and some panel beating techniques. But there is the frustration that if I had known what I was doing in the first place I might have been able to save time and money. 

It is all part of the journey! 

At the same time that this has been going on I've been waiting for Jason to tell me when he is ready to start the work and last week that time came!

I can do no more on the chassis. I've got the all the gaps as best as I can which has also taken countless hours. But it is now over to the paint shop for it's transformation!

Monday, 1 November 2021

Engine Rebuild

When I first saw the engine in bits I was concerned that it had turned over for the last time many years before.

Apart from the visible state there was of course the unseen and unknown wear that I'd have to get sorted. 

So I decided to get it professionally inspected and repaired if possible.

I found a local company to me called Thomas Hamlin & Co based in Bridgewater.

They have been working on engines since 1896 so I felt confident that if the engine was repairable they'd tell me.

Once they had picked it up it was only a few weeks later when they called me back to give me the news. 

Good news was that is was going to be ok! However there were one or two jobs that needed to be done:

  • Rebore to +.020
  • Grind the Crank
  • Face Head -.007
  • Face Block -.005
  • Face thermostat housing
  • Grind valves
  • Fit new core plugs
  • Fit new pistons to rods
  • Fit new rocker shaft
  • Fit 8 guides
  • Fit new bearings
  • Fit new oil pump
  • Fit new timing chain
  • Fit new pressure relief valve
  • Fit new core plugs
I also decided to convert to unleaded so the valve seats had to be cut and new unleaded inserts fitted.

They kindly took some photos of the work.

All of the work including rebuilding it to a short engine with the timing set and fitting the back plate was still a little less than buying a brand new conditioned engine. I really wanted to keep my original 1098 and with the rebore to +.020 is about 1144cc is also a bonus.

There is plenty to do and I have started to clean the sump, oil filter, side covers including the breather and rocker cover.

I also have to sort out the hole in the oil strainer. 

 I can see the part that has broken off still inside, so I need to find a way to braise it back on. 

Looking forward to completing the rebuild from here on in and giving it a new fresh coat of original green paint.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Paint Preparation

Since completing the suspension and steering and getting the chassis back on to its wheels I have been reviewing the body work in preparation for the paint.

First was to make sure all the gaps were straight and equal around all the panels, which meant attaching everything properly for a first fit.

What became apparent was that in most areas I had done a good enough job to minimise any metal warping from the welding and the gaps and fit was more than acceptable. There were though a few areas that needed more metal work to get the fit to match the rest of the car.

The boot area was my biggest challenge. When first fitted the differences around the gap where mostly level with the main chassis, but at the bottom corners were raised and mid way on the upwards curve were slightly raised as well.

Because I had decide to try and restore the whole boot lid there was inevitability a lot of warping that has taken many, many hours of hammering, bending, twisting and in some cases trying metal shrinking techniques to try and get this area looking the way I wanted it to. 

I did even end up buying another original boot lid to see if I was wasting my time. 

As is turned out this didn't fit in other areas and mostly worse than mine and I would need to have the paint stripped which would add to the cost, so I decide to carry on with my original one. At least I can sell this on to someone. 

After some more time playing around with the lip that the seal fits on to it did at last get to a point that I was happy with. The guy who is going to paint the chassis said it was close enough for him to complete with filler to get it perfect. 

There are further areas like the doors and bottom of the B-posts which needed some further attention. Also the bottom half of the rear valence wasn't smooth at all.

Now the panels are flush and the gaps look good. I have also spent quite a while making sure all areas of the panels have no high points in them. This involves sliding your hand over every single parts and if you find a high point you have to gently hammer it flat. I bought a hammer and dolly set to help me with this.

Another area that was no way near close was the nose of the bonnet. I had to do so much welding to this section that the warping needed many hours of hammering to get it back flat and into a good enough condition for the painter to be happy with it.

I also spent some time teaching myself to use filler. I have to say that at times I really wanted to give up.

I have to acknowledge how much skill the professionals have in being able to work their magic and get these areas flat without ripples. Over time I started to get a better finish then my first attempt in the photo above, but while I was improving each time, deep down I knew it wasn't nearly good enough. 

So when the paint guy came round he said I had done an ok job, but that his 20 years of experience would show in the finish top coat.

Right now I am just saving up to book my slot in the spray booth and we should be good to go!