The Story of an MGB Rebuild


Dismantling the Original

Dismantling is the worst job of the whole project. You start on a car that you were driving only a few weeks ago. You've gone through a lot together and suddenly you start attacking it with an angle grinder. That doesn't help the morale much. Then the exposure to the filth of 30 years worth of driving also gets you down. Dismantling is the downward side of the whole project. Once you start assembling, the whole project takes on a more positive aspect; you suddenly start making progress. It's also good because you are generally working with clean components (Waxoyl excepted!)

Dismantling needs to organisation skills of someone more disciplined than me. Ideally, bits should only have been taken off the old car when I was ready to start working on them. Although I've got a double garage, I still didn't have enough space. I could have left it outside but you do need to get bits really dry before refurbishment can start.

I got as many cardboard boxes as possible and tried to keep each sub-assembly together. I didn't spend enough time on fasteners. If I did it again, I would measure the diameter, thread and length of every bolt/stud I took out. In most cases, the part number in the parts catalogue accurately defines these length and thread of a bolt/setscrew - the MOSS catalogue has some handy tables at the back. Other part numbers are less precise and in some cases the MOSS parts catalogue is wrong.

I should have hung on to more of the bits for longer. There's a great temptation to throw stuff away but try to resist that.


So here's where we start. The engine came out first - once out, I put the whole thing to one side having squirted lots of oil down the plug holes. Next was the front suspension which came apart without too many problems. The main problem was the bolt that secures the shock absorber arms to the trunnion on the vertical link. Both sides were rusted solid - I used a hacksaw to cut through the rubber bush and then through the bolt. Slow work!


This one's interesting when you compare it with the build pictures. It shows what 30 years on the road does to your body! This is where you need to photograph every wire and every pipe - record where they go through the body as you will forget. You can see that the chassis plate doesn't tell very much.


Looks a bit sad, doesn't it? The fuse box is an improvement on the original (I think!) but I'll be going a bit further on the new one. I felt that the join between the main loom and the rear harness was poor with loads of bullet connectors. My aim was to do something better.


This is where it gets serious. The wings did unbolt - apart from that little self tapper at the bottom of the wing. As the wings were relatively new, I was very careful with them and they're now in the loft - just in case! I dismantled my Triumph Spitfire with a hacksaw when I scrapped it but the MG is different. I needed an angle grinder and a selection of cold chisels as the metal is thick in places. First, the front section was cut off with an angle grinder. You can see the front suspension bits disarded in front of the car. The spring pans were corroded for 50% of the spring dish surface bit worrying as it has just passed its MOT test.


It's at this point, that you really wonder what you're doing. It's filthy work and very depressing.


Everything was stripped at the front so it was time to work at the back. Undo the back spring hanger bolts and then lower the whole lot to the floor using a trolley jack. Some of the bolts in the shock absorber were badly rusted and had to be cut away with the grinder. The axle was easily restored with a rotary wire brush and lots of Smooth Hammerite.


Here it's the angle grinder and the cold chisel. You can't get the angle grinder into the difficult bits so in some places I had to drill a series of holes and then knock out the remaining metal with a cold chisel. I had to cut it up into small enough bits so that they could go down to the tip in the back of an estate car.


You can see that the boot floor and rear panel has been cut out in one lump. The serious metal is where the wheelarch joins the panel between the boot and the cockpit.


Both rear wings have now been removed. Next step is the battery box area. The wheel that you can see at the front is on the rear axle which just happens to be there!


A serious amount of work to cut out the battery boxes. You can see that in the back left and back right corners, I've had to work round the strong points. The bottom of the transmission tunnel is another strong point where the layers are metal are thick. Look in the driver's footwell to see how the shell was bodged in the past to fit in an early engine.


The final picture in this series. This bit was quite difficult to cut out. The sills were one area of difficulty and the strengthener under the middle of the floor was another. The latter didn't help as there was a thick piece of steel in the centre. The tyre lever going through to the heater shows the difficulty I had with getting it out. By the time it was out, it wasn't much use for anything. It wasn't any easier to put the new one in.

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