The Story of an MGB Rebuild


Engine - Refurbishment

The engine shouldn't have been very bad. It hadn't done very many miles since the last major service where I had overhauled the camshaft and bearings. When I got to the crank I was a bit concerned about the state of the bearings and some score marks on the crank. The engine reconditioner confirmed that a regrind was required and that a light hone and new rings would be beneficial. This was done and the engine rebuilt.

Here's the engine partly dismantled. The spanner was a useful purchase even though it's rarely used.

The engine in the background is a Spitfire MkIII, complete with gearbox and overdrive. It went to a good home as the purchaser had managed to put a con rod through the side of his engine.

I don't know how I would cope without a Workmate! This one has had a seriously abused life but continues to give good service. The most irritating thing is that the little nylon clips that stop the legs moving have snapped through too much sunlight. (Since the date that this picture was published, I've managed to find someone that sells them) The block has been cleaned, wire brushed and cleaned again. The number 1 piston is about to be fitted. One sharp blow with the shaft of the hammer and it's in. Plenty of oil - you can just see the oil can.

Crank in and caps tightened being very careful to keep them all in the right order and the right way round - lots of oil. Engine plates fitted and some painting complete. Someone recommended Halfords engine paint so I'm experimenting with that. New oil pump fitted.

Meanwhile, the gearbox didn't need much work. I find it best to take the overdrive off and only fit it once the engine/gearbox has been sited in the engine compartment. The gearbox only needed a clean and repaint as it was in good condition. Be careful with the speedo cable adapter. It's easy to knock it and I had to replace mine as there was a big chip missing. Likewise you need to be careful with the remote control housing breather. This is nylon and mine had been sheared off.

All new clutch components were fitted. I find the best lining up tool is a headtorch and a long 1/2" socket drive extension as a lever. When the circles are symmetric, the gear box should fit. I succeeded on the second attempt!

My engine hoist isn't the best in the world but it does the job. I get the back end of the car as high as I can and the front end as low as I can - with the wheels off. I don't fit the cylinder head as I get a vital bit of clearance without it. The nasty, cheap Chinese adaptor (in orange) does actually work this way but I have to remove the levelling screw handle and operate the nut with a spanner - otherwise it hits the hoist arm at this angle. I start with the engine horizontal and once its over the grille section, start to change the angle like shown. At the point shown by the photo, I then get underneath the car and attach the overdrive - make sure the 2 sets of splines inside the overdrive are aligned otherwise you will swear a lot! With the overdrive on, it's too long for me to be able to get it in with my hoist.

Now comes the horrible, horrible bit. I would really like to meet the person who designed the rear crossmember system - there has to be a better way! First, the mounting rubbers need to be forced into their holes. Then the 4 bolts have to pass through the V shaped mounting bracket and the mounting rubbers into the aluminium of the gearbox. This has to be performed in virtually no space and I've got small hands! Most of the bolts can only be turned through half a flat at a time and that's only after you've managed to start the threads. Keep everything possible loose, including the bolts at the centre bottom of the crossmember. Eventually, I used over-long bolts to give me a bit more room.

The top end looked like this. All the engine mounting bolts are fitted. I use circular pin punches to lever the mounting plate holes into alignment. Note the earth strap.

The cylinder head had new valve guides, valves and springs. I decided to fit a 4 into 1 manifold as I always had trouble with the exhaust/manifold joint with the cast iron manifold. The next time I overhaul the cylider head, I've got to do something about the thermostat housing stud holes as one is not true. The housing has gone on this time. At this stage another coat of paint went on the engine and cylinder head.

The engine is virtually finished now. It was a matter of adding each bit in turn in a logic manner. The fan responded well to a good scrub in the sink. The radiator diaphragm needed replacing as there were at least 6 stress cracks round the outside. The engine wiring is finished but the water temperature sensor has yet to be fitted. I find that I have to fit the oil pipe, oil pressure gauge pipe and distributor in that order as its not possible to get to the oil pipe once the distributor is fitted.

Finally, the finished article. Carbs are exchange units from the MGOC. I eventually worked out what the lug on the top of the pedal box cover was for!

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