The Story of an MGB Rebuild

 

Starting the Build - Suspension

From this point onwards the project became really enjoyable. I had no detailed plan but it seemed logical to sort out the suspension, then do the plumbing (brakes) and then get the wiring in place before starting the engine. Once all these bits had been done, I could think about the interior. Sometimes, I switched to something else so as to add a bit of interest. It was vital to keep detailed notes of everything that had been fitted and I used my database application for this.

I had attempting to buy a block of parts with each month's pay during the autumn. This had the disadvantage of not being sure it would fit/work for several months but I never really hit any problems. It had the advantage of building up a pool of parts so I was rarely waiting for a part. For small parts, I would recommend MOSS every time. They supply all of the small parts individually bagged and labelled. MGOC supply all the small parts for an order in a single bag and it can be hard to work out what is what. However, the service from Moss Manchester is streets ahead of the service from Moss Bradford!

All refurbished suspension parts received the Hammerite Number 1 primer/Smoothrite treatment after taking all of the rust and paint of with a wire brush on an angle grinder. Note not the red primer from Hammerite which is useless. The one advantage of wire brushing on a cold winter's night is that the drill gets nice and warm - it does a good job of keeping your hands warm!

The doors and boot were removed and placed in the loft. The bonnet was removed and was too big to go in the loft so it had to go on the spare bed! I purchased a big roll of bubble wrap and covered the car in this. I then covered that with a painting cover from B + Q. This was an attempt to avoid scratches and bangs.

Some words of warning about the rear springs. I fitted the spring as it came out of the wrapping - without changing the ride height packing. The MGOC advised that the axle restraining straps weren't required as the shock absorbers did the same job. Don't believe them! Once the axle was in place, it was impossible to fit the exhaust pipe as the axle sat too low. After crawling under an MG in a museum, I decided that the back axle was too low - the car too high - so I bought some straps. They pull the axle up enough to clear the exhaust. After finishing the build and driving it for the first time, I still felt the back end was too high so I moved 2 of the packing pieces on the spring from below it to above it. I think I'm happier now. You can see the original position in the fourth picture below.

Another word of warning! Before setting off for the MOT, I decided to make a final check of the wheel spinners. As I tightened the front one, something in the back of my mind said that it was different to the way I had tightened the back one. Closer inspection showed the the front right hand spinner said 'LEFT SIDE' on it yet it had tightened up! I worked out that I had fitted the left hand front hub to the right hand side and vice versa. Better add that to the checklist next time.

Update

The major teething trouble was with the front suspension. The MGOC supplied the yellow urethane bushes that you can see in some of the photos. I was quite concerned when I came to the final torquing session on the retaining nuts (with the car's weight on the wheels and not supported by stands) in that it was like tightening up onto a rubber. The was no clean reassuring 'click' of the torque wrench. Very quickly after the car went on the road, it was obvious that the bushes were cracking under the retaining washers - and I'd used full size washers here. The MGOC merely sent me a replacement set but it was very worrying to see how deep a groove had been worn after only 200 miles.

I managed to talk to Hoyle Engineering who make the suspension. It was clear I was talking to someone who knew his stuff. He pointed out that the bushes he supplied had internal steel bushes and are purple. The yellow suspension arm bushes supplied by MGOC didn't. I bought a set of their bushes and the problem is now solved. So be very careful with these bushes!

MGOC sell some nice stainless steel disk backing plates (BTB412/3) - the original ones rot really quickly. The disk calipers are fitted. Long term note - I changed the brake pads some time after the rebuild and the backing plates polished up as new.

Disks, bearings and brake pipes fitted. All parts painted with engine paint. The disks have been greased and the pads will not be fitted for some time. Flexible brake pipe is stainless.
All straightforward stuff although I did manage to leave out the inter bearing spacer and wondered why the bearing locked up when I tightened the retaining nut. I thought it best to replace the bearing after that.

Getting the back axle into place was harder than the front crossmember. The spring shackles are the hardest bit. I used a G cramp to push them through the bushes. You can see my trusty bottle jack that gets pulled out for awkward jobs. I fitted the axle to the springs before attaching the springs which may have made it harder - I didn't try the other way so I can't tell! All the old brake gear looked tired so I replaced the lot. The one thing I want to work at all costs is the brakes.

Here you can see the spring fitted with too high a ride height. I later moved 2 of the packing pieces to the top of the spring. The wheel cylinder has had the old brake pipe sawn off and then hammered flat as a temporary seal. I'm going to try and reverse the shock absorber bolts as I think the ends will rust badly if the thread end is in the wheel arch. As you can see, the spring tinware is new as the old ones were very moth eaten. The rubber bump stops are best fitted by boiling in water for half an hour!

Here you can see work in progress on changing the ride height. I think you need to go very carefully here as the spring is compressed. I had the trolley jack supporting the differential, the bottle jack supporting the bottom spring plate and very carefully lowered the bottle jack. It takes a bit of pulling and shoving on the axle to get all the spring plates aligned.

Here's the bushes from the suspension after about 100 miles of running. This is one of the better ones. Completely the wrong bushes have been supplied with the suspension kit. The bushes are cracking up and will soon disintegrate.

These are the right bushes. I've had no problems with these since I fitted them. I had to get the front suspension repainted after about 9 years and the bushes looked pretty good. I decided to play safe and renew them.
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