The Fairwater Collection !

An MGBGTV8 Sebring and some interesting Land Rover conversions.
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MG Page 2. A Spit Roast. How needing a new starter motor can get out of hand. Initial steps. End of June to August..

Yes indeed, it all started as it were, (or didn't as the case may be), with a starter motor packing up.  Changing the starter on a V8 is no easy task and involves removing all sorts of stuff as we have seen before, and jacking the engine up.  This resulted in an engine change project, which led on to a gearbox change, an engine bay spruce up, and then while we were at it, the inner wings too. 

I thought I might leave it as a front end refurb, but looking underneath showed that the previous restoration was showing signs of needing some conservation; in fact it needed urgent work to preserve it and avoid the need to have it all done again, and more, in not so many years time, and at considerable expense.

I was resigned then that now the engine and gearbox were out, this was the time to undertake this work, and one sunny afternoon while chiselling off underseal from the front chassis legs, which were very fast disappearing back underneath the lower regions of the car and becoming rather uncomfortable to get at, that the wheels started turning in the old head again.  Lying down with aching arms overhead, brandishing a chisel with bits showering down all over one is not a terribly pleasant pastime, even on a sunny day while getting your legs tanned as a side effect, so I said to  myself, "sod this for a game of soldiers", and went in to take a look at eBay.

There was no way I was not going to do this properly at this stage, and the following pictures show the solution.


The picture below shows the front A frame standing in position.  Brackets fitted to bumper mounts with cross bracket fitted.  The high lift jack will lift on the tubular section.  Lots of blocks and a hydraulic jack to hand to drop it onto should it get out of balance.  With the back  of the car on axle stands, there was not much problem as long as the high lift jack is properly vertical, and is held firmly to stop it going sideways as it is lifted.  Here, it is dropped to ground level to drop off the front cross member assembly. 

(29th June 2008)

It is a long way up, and was quite a tense operation, but it was easy really on reflection.  I was just extra careful to make sure it was safe on the way.  The bearing is 1000mm above ground level.

After fitting the brackets to the rear and starting to lift this very gently, it was clear that the car was immediately going to roll sideways, and so these struts were fitted to the front brackets to prevent this.  It worked fine.  This was necessary because I was doing it all single handed.  A helper could have easily held the car upright.  I do prefer the solid struts however anyway.

And now, at the back, the lift was successful, with the blocks and jack kept as standby in case of problems with the high lift, such as it becoming out of balance.  It was ok, but this is not really for the feint hearted.  Here, the A frame is about to be slid into place.  The back axle has been left behind on its stands after disconnecting all its connections.

Having successfully mounted the car on the spit, much head scratching took place with regard to what to do from there.  When the struts were taken off and the car was overbalanced, it could turn upside down by itself, very quickly, and that was not exactly in the plan!

Eventually a pile of blocks was erected under the side jacking point, so as to only let it turn a few inches, and the car was turned over onto these.  It is easy to hold the car by hand while it is level, and this first move was easy.  The unknown part was how much heavier the resistance to turning would get, as the angle increases, and how quickly.  How this was going to be tested was unknown for a while, and head scratching ensued again.  It has to be realised that I was doing this by myself and did not have recourse to a shop load of fitters to call upon for help.  Thus every move had to be short and definitive, with a known goal which was achievable.  Eventually it was realised that the jacking point could be put to very good use, when a length of strong steel tube was spirited up, which fitted the hole just right, and which could be used as a lever to lift and lower the car by hand, which was found at this stage still to be easy.  Thus, the blocks were removed one at a time and the car lowered on the one side more and more, while becoming heavier and heavier.  At one point I fitted a similar piece of tube to the other side with a counter weight consisting of a length of bullhead rail hanging off it, probably about 80lb in weight.  This considerably assisted the lift and lower on the other side, but was probably unnecessary. I was just avoiding the possibility of the weight getting too  much too quickly on the lowered side.

The picture below shows the steel tube in the jacking point, and the initial pile of blocks underneath as lowering was just beginning.  The car was easy to lift on the tube, and one block at a time was removed until the end of the tube was used to rest firstly on blocks and eventually on the concrete slab.

The first tentative steps.  Scary isn't it.

The tube now is bearing on only one block.  This was tentatively removed shortly afterwards, and the tube went down to rest on the concrete, as it is too long to clear the ground.  By now the car was too heavy to lift by this tube and so now that the angle had increased, it was possible to fit a long length of box section to the front mounting bracket of the rear spring, and lever with this instead, as in the next but one picture.

Below we see the length of box section referred to before.  It isn't propping it up as it looks, as the car is trying to roll over onto its roof.  This is being stopped by the tube in the left hand jacking point underneath, which is now on the concrete, but is also being blocked by the length of sleeper which is wedged up against a little step by the concrete path.  Little did I know when I laid the slabs that this step would be so useful.  To alter the blocks or adjust the tube, this length of box section is leaned upon at its lower end, and the car's weight is relieved from the tube underneath.  At this angle it is a fair weight which has to be applied, and if it wasn't for these arrangements, a fair number of co-ordinated helpers would have been required to hold the car.  The spit has a locking bracket which will engage on the vertical, but so far I haven't managed to get it around that far as the tube is too long, and without helpers, getting and holding it in the vertical position is quite difficult.

(30th June 2008)


A couple of detail condition shots.  Here is the petrol pump, which for the first time in its life, is easy to access!  The braided outlet hose is not in terribly good condition, but is, like the rest of the pump, original and hasn't been disturbed in 34 years and has never had new points fitted.  All the wax which has been periodically sprayed underneath has served to keep the unions free, and these undid like they were put on yesterday.  Similarly all the other fixings, pump fixing nuts shown here, and the harness / pipe clips to the bodywork had fixing nuts and self tapping screws which all came out as easily as was possible.  The steel fuel pipes have some surface rusting under the waxy coatings, but nothing serious.  The waxed underseal was rather soft though to scrape away, and there was still the makings of some surface rust patches underneath in places, despite the new wax coating.  It seemed to me that the underseal had been softened and compromised to some degree in the process of re-waxing.

It was this sight below, which initially set the alarm bells ringing in my head as regards the need to do some conservation work.  This is the sight which greeted me after a cursory scrape of the black "waxoyl" which the MG Centre had applied to the new sections they fitted back in 1992 (ish).  Some bare steel can be seen under the now very flaky surface, but there is lots of surface rust which is screaming in my ears, "convert me".  Converted it will be, with Rustbuster's Fe 123 Rust Converter, when all the rest of it is exposed too, and this will be sprayed into the box sections as well, as a precurser to Dinitrol cavity wax, (in the box sections). 

I have reported on this stuff at the relevant stage on page 5 of this saga, and it will be seen that I was not overly impressed with it, or the Dinitrol equivalent.  All it does is encapsulate, and that can be done with a good paint system, so the latter is preferable in my view, especially for the reasons given.  There is also a much cheaper alternative to Dinitrol too, on the industrial market and little known in general circles, which I am sure will be as good, and which I will be trying out as cavity protect.  Shell Ensis.  I am getting ahead of myself however.

  The previously cleaned front inner wing can just be seen at the bottom right.  Some test scrapings have taken place at the front of the floor section as can be seen.


And so the removal of underseal begins.  It is probably one step better than cutting the grass around the parade ground with nail scissors.  Still, Morgan, below, is doing pretty well, and it's better for him than sweeping chimneys or driving pit ponies.

The underseal has to come off because its condition is unknown and after all these years, it has degraded in parts, which has resulted in surface rusting underneath.  It is only apparent where, when it is all off.

(1st July 2008)


Nice one Morgan.  To get it to this stage took about a week of one hour midweek evenings and a broken weekend. By now he was using a heat gun as well and using this, the underseal strips off really easily.

(13th July 2008)

The heat gun enabled him to finish to this stage below, having removed all the thick underseal coatings and leaving just a smearing and a few bits and pieces to pick up, in just one more full weekend.

(14th July 2008)

Good boy Morgan.  I guess that means lots of ice cream and chocolate I owe you.


After another week of spraying with petrol from the solvent gun shown below in Morgan's capable hands, having used about a gallon and a half of petrol to wash the remaining underseal off, we had a nice clean bottom.  You can see where the restorations were previously made.  Cills, half a floor on the passenger side, jacking points and a bit of crossmember which actually looks a bit of a dog's dinner.

At this point a few words about safety in view of the use of petrol.  I should not have to say it, but certainly don't want to have any readers who may use this method of cleaning be barbequed in a fireball.  Petrol is lethal.  It doesn't just burn as you watch it.  It flares and explodes into a fireball in a fraction of a second, engulfing you with it.  However as can be seen here, it can be safe just as long as one is sensible.  Firstly there is no way I would have done this in an enclosed garage.  Secondly there are some factors which are not obvious, but could catch you out, terminally.  Therefore, no electric motors,  no electrical switches, even mobile 'phones, radios or pocket sound systems.  The least obvious of all is probably the danger from static electrical discharge, so make sure you yourself are earthed and not susceptible.  Static does spark to earth and that is enough to explode petrol vapour.  Of course, I had to use  a compressor and airline, but the compressor was two lengths of airline away, in the house!  In practice the vapour disperses quickly and becomes very dilute, but still, ultimate care should be used.  I am not being held liable for any stupid practice anyone else does either.

Ok I am being on the safe side here, so just think before you do it and all should be well.  I actually set a petrol tank on fire many many years ago, by a static electrical discharge from my fingers.  A split second thought went through my head when my life went in front of my eyes, and that this was the end of the car which was going to burn up in front of me, and then the next thought resulted in me replacing the petrol cap, at which time it just smothered the flames out!!  I think I got away with this because it was full to the brim, so there was no vapour / air mix in the filler pipe, and only the surface of the petrol was burning, and then for only a second or two.  So there.  a lesson as to why you should always fill your tank right to the top when taking fuel on board!  Aircraft actually always have an earth lead connected to them before filling for just this purpose, so it is no isolated thing.  So back from the brink and no harm done.


(25th July 2008)

In the next section we will ponder over some detail pics of the clean but as can be seen here, not without rust, bottom, and see where we go from there.  See the next section then;  "How clean is your bottom?"


Just before we go though, one more picture showing the car supported on a jack under the bump stop mount in the wheel arch while I removed the rear spit bracket.  It is therefore possible with care, to work on the rear chassis legs in this position while supported only on the front spit and a jack thus placed.  I was actually changing the bracket from a 40mm square one to a 50mm square one, plus longer brackets to the chassis legs.  The original 40mm bracket was bending as can be seen in one of the pictures above, as were the bolts through the spacers to the original brackets on the chassis.  The new set up is more solid.  Now this was definately heart in mouth time!

(4th August 2008)


After the new bracket was added, another box section was added as below, to act as a lever to pull the car back over.  You can hang on the end of the pole and it just comes down nicely, turning it round easily.  The bar reaches ground  level and can be "locked off" with a weight attached to the end. The bar is somewhat longer than what is apparent in the picture; about six feet long in all.