The Fairwater Collection !

An MGBGTV8 Sebring and some interesting Land Rover conversions.
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The real fun part. Putting it all together... and finding lots of problems on the way!

This final page in the saga covers building up the shell into a finished car again.  Along the way we fit air con from an RV8 and wire in the efi system. We then have problems with fitting the new Sebring Minilite wheels due to the twin pot RV8/Range Rover calipers, more trouble with the clutch clearance, an engine which had been assembled with valve timing way out(!) , exhaust manifolds which won't go into place with the engine in situ. and all sorts of other fun.

Final assembly started with replacing the back axle.  As the car was now standing on axle stands placed under the rearmost parts of the chassis legs behind the spring shackle holes, there was now now means of lowering the car, so the axle had to be raised up to meet the car instead.  I was fine with this as it gives loads of working space underneath. 

First, the springs  had to be refitted to the axles and new poly bushes installed as it  had been decided to give these a go.  They are quite easy to wind into the springs using a length of studding, nuts and some thick washers.
5th July 2010

Ready to lift,
6th July 2010

When lifting, the axle tended to swivel with the diff nose downwards, so the rear shackles lined up first.  Getting the polybushes into the chassis and the shackles in to the poly bushes was interesting.  The process was helped by use of a home made press, in the form of a 90mm exhaust clamp!  They were quite difficult, but as long as the pressing was done in line and not skewing off sideways, they popped in ok.
7th July 2010

After finally fitting the rear shackles up, the axle was lifted until the front spring eyes slotted into the front mountings.  The alignment was surprisingly easy and it went up more or less exactly right first time.

After this, the exhausts were fitted up once more to check clearances etc.  Problem number one was soon discovered when fitting the telescopic dampers as the straight pipes fouled the dampers.  This hadn't been worked out before as I think it was too hard to picture at the time.  The required cranking of the pipe to fit this would have been severe so the original lever arm dampers and link arms were fitted.  The link arms take up less than half the width of the telescopics and while the pipe still needed cranking, it was far less and would not require a rework elsewhere.  Besides this, the front silencer mounts would have had to have been resited and it isn't clear where they would have fitted.

Original link arms now fitted and pipes cut and bent.  These now need welding up but the general alignment hasn't radically altered and the front sections are still ok.  I have fitted a tie rod between the two middle boxes to pull them together and stiffen up the whole system.  They now cannot touch the link arms despite being quite close.

11th July 2010

The front cross member was similarly raised up using the system of blocks and axle stands.  It balanced on the jack pretty well and located virtually straight away.

This meant that the car could now come off the spit by supporting under the cross member.

Time to think about fitting out the shell. 

Turning to the headlight bowls, firstly these bowls are plastic Range Rover ones, but these don't have the spring clips for the trim rings.  i fitted each with a self tapping screw as below, adjusted so as to allow the trim ring to slip over without falling off.  Later on we see that I have arranged the bowls to be fitted from the rear, so that you don't have to take the trim ring off to take the bowl and headlight assembly off.

8th August 2010

The bowl was fitted with these countersunk allen headed set screws with nuts on the rear which sit within the thickness of the rubber gasket.  This is so that the unit can be fitted up from the rear with further nuts, although in practice these extra fixing nuts were not used as the bowls were fixed with a central screw through an internal panel fitted behind the air con condensers, which will be seen later.

Much general fitting up followed which needs no special mention, so we  move to something more interesting.

Air Con for the GT, and fitting the efi wiring.

While considering options, it occurred to  me that while at this stage, and while looking for additional bolt on projects, it would be a sound idea to investigate the issues regarding the fitting of an RV8 air con system to the car.  In theory it ought not to be too difficult, seeing as the cars are basically the same shape.  Clive Wheatley has had customers ask him to remove the air con from their imported RV8's and therefore has parts available.  I duly obtained a full kit from him and set about converting it to fit the GT.

It is fairly straightforward as far as the hardware and plumbing is concerned, except that the condensers mounted under the front spoiler in each wheel arch, posed a bit of a headache as far as fitting them up with brackets was concerned.  Much head scratching came up with the idea of making pods out of aluminium, which would be mounted on via the bumper bracket holes and supported on the outboard ends by a back plate fitted across the spoiler, therefore enclosing the condensers effectively inside a sealed spoiler.

This is the finished driver's side one to illustrate what I mean.

Bending up the basic inner pod from aluminium.

21st August 2010

Both pods undergoing a trial fit in position. Joining air con pipe in position

23rd August 2010

Closer view of driver's side pod.

Drier unit mounted on front apron.  Pipe coming up through front of the apron from the passenger side condenser.  As the condensers are mounted  much more vertically than in the RV8, the latter having a longer nose valance, the lower end of the condenser, from which this pipe comes, is lower down and so this pipe is rather short.  Luckily the RV8 installation requires this pipe to have a couple of bends in it which are not required on the B GT, so these can be carefully bent nearly straight as can be seen here.  The drier cannot be mounted dead vertical without this latter pipe being replaced with a longer one, but this will work okay.  Also, the cross pipe joining to the driver's side condenser can be seen going across the picture in front of the drier and the repositioned horn, (not yet in position).

This is where the cross pipe dives down through the apron to the driver's side condenser unit.

And here we have the rest of the plumbing.

...Which lead into this monstrosity under the dash in the passenger footwell.  This is the evaporator unit and blowers which provide the cool air.  The pipework has yet to be reconfigured.

The condenser is fitted up using this bracket, which conveniently mounts the engine efi ecu also.  The ecu can just about be seen mounted at the rear with the multi plug attached below.  The efi wiring loom enters the cabin through the hole drilled as can be seen, at the top of the footwell.

10th October 2010

And here is the efi wiring loom hole before the loom was fitted.

And here, after final connecting up of the efi loom to the car.  Relays still to be added to their bases.  The wiring loom going off to front left of the picture is going to the inertia cut off switch and fuel pump.

14th November 2010

Here is the inertia cut off switch, mounted on the side of the cill by the passenger seat.  It has to be reasonably easily reached in order to reset if set off.

Engine and gearbox build and installation. Fit up the body.

At last it is time to replace the engine and gearbox, and while the original spec engine and gearbox have been preserved, we are installing a low mileage 3.9 engine from an RV8, (which is identical to the Range Rover 3.9 engine except the nice  MG plenum chamber,) and an LT77 gearbox which was from an SD1 Vitesse Twin Plenum and which has been waiting languishing in my garage for this moment for several years.

The engine came as block and pistons, with everything else loosely bolted together.  The first job was to clean it all up and put it together.  During this operation it was found that the timing gears had been fitted back to front and the timing marks were about 10 degrees out.  Whether this was a booby trap or whether it  had actually been running like this is a vexed question, but the engine had certainly been turned over as the teeth on the cam gear were chewed up due to the gears being not in alignment.


10th October 2010

This one shows how far out the timing was.


New set fitted and waiting for the timing cover to be fitted.  Red  jointing compound is "Dirko".


Timing cover fitted, together with air con compressor.


Turning to the gearbox a minute, getting this mated to the engine was given some priority.  Here we see the new release bearing fitted, and the control arm, slippers, operating rod and clip awaiting fitting prior to the two being brought together.  Standard RV8 clutch.

5th November 2010


My clutch alignment tool.  A half inch drill to insert into the spigot bearing, and a plug socket which fits the splined hole in the friction plate almost perfectly.


Both together and heads and inlet manifold in position.  Ram housing and fuel rail not fixed as these have to be removed for installation into the car.

16th November 2010



Refurbished fuel rail.

The engine and gearbox were then attached to the crane so that the sump could be dropped and cleaned out.  This was necessary in any case seeing as the gasket was broken when the timing cover was removed.

The opportunity of having some extra space was taken in order to check clutch operation.  I suspected that the operating rod from  the slave cylinder was too short, so I rigged up a two legged puller to act against the casing to push the rod in, to disengage the clutch.  I was right.  It had to go too far in.  I replaced the pushrod with another, one inch longer, made from a ground down coach bolt.  Re-checking showed this to disengage properly.


Off came the oil pick up strainer, and lo, it was full of crud.  Washing this in petrol revealed this to be lots of fluff like cotton waste fibres, and some remains of instant rubber gasket compound.

It was also necessary to remove the oil pump base.  The MGBGT V8 has a capiliary oil pressure gauge.  The RV8 / Range Rover,  has an electric pressure switch and no gauge.  The MG capiliary  has a slightly different thread here, so I swapped them over.  Here, the pump gears are packed in vaseline to ensure oil pick up on starting.


Nice clean sump ready to refit.  Dirko already applied.

17th November 2010

And here at last, the complete unit ready for lifting in.

18th November 2010

The car is now down on blocks under the wheels to allow the crane legs to run underneath.  It has to be raised so that the tail of the gearbox can dip down under the car before levelling out.


And in it goes.  Up a bit, forward a bit, down a bit, tip it a bit. And so it goes.



One of our best towels helping to prevent paint chips.


Getting jammed up between the bulkhead and the slam panel.


Almost there at last.


Finally in.  No problems with getting it lined up on the engine mounts.  It is either on the mounts or it wont go in!  Not much clearance this side.


And even less clearance this side.




Rear of engine.  Method of attaching the balance bar to the rear lifting lugs.  Twin lugs to keep the engine level.

With fuel rail and ram housing refitted, together with new adjustable fuel pressure regulator mounted on the rocker box.

The original heater valve is fixed to the engine, so this being a different design, the original type valve could not be used.  An inline Rover type heater valve was sourced, for insertion into the heater feed pipe.  This one worked back to front, so the cable had to be repositioned to work in the opposite fashion so that when the dial inside says "Hot", then the valve is open, not closed as it would have been if not altered.  Here, the cable is clamped to the back plate with a simple P clip on the other end.

23rd November 2010

Fuel pressure regulator again.


Having inserted the engine, attempts were made to insert the RV8 type exhaust manifolds.  Attempts is the word because it was not possible.  Eventually after much swearing, the bottom tails were cut off the pipes, leaving a short straight piece to reconnect at the bottom.  It would have been better to have cut the vertical piece however, as even with most of the tails cut off, it was thought that I was again going to fail to insert them.  Luckily with the rocker boxes removed, they just slid down by the rockers.  These manifolds obviously have to be inserted before the engine goes in!  Still, I am happy to have short tails and be able to remove them independently should this be necessary.


The tails were reconnected wit heavy duty sleeve connectors as seen below.  The branches were lagged as can also be seen.

Out of focus but you can still see the connector towards the front of the pipe.

Heavy duty sleeve clamps for exhaust connections.


A nice aluminium radiator.

...which uses a Land Rover Series IIA or Series III top hose, as a bottom hose.  Conveniently the same diameters top and bottom and has a single shortened 90 degree bend.  It goes too close to the oil pump and so I have banded a pad of curved aluminium sheet to the hose with a hose clip, visible in this picture, as protection.

Note also, it is fitted with a very convenient drain plug.

17th December 2010

A number of things here.  Top to bottom: main feed cable to starter motor, in red: main earth cable going straight from battery to the engine, (bottom of clutch housing), extended bracket, (in blue) for the connection of the clutch steel pipe to the flexi pipe, (the original one was directly above the exhaust, just out of shot to the top of the picture, and this one allows the original flexi pipe to be used, in conjunction with a Land Rover Series III slave cylinder, which is the same as the SD1 one, but is UNF rather than Metric threaded; a high torque starter is seen behind said slave cylinder.


Having done all this, it was nearly ready to try a start up.  Before this though, it is very important to ensure that the oil pump will suck oil and generate pressure quickly to avoid undue engine wear.  When the engine has been taken apart, standing for a long period and when all the pipes etc. are dry, the established means of doing this is with an electric drill.  A shaft is made up with a slot on the end to engage the oil pump drive peg.  The distributor is removed and the shaft inserted to engage with the pump.  It is then turned in the electric drill.  On the MG, the oil pressure gauge is useful as you can see the pressure achieved.  While spinning, the pressure went up to 60 psi on the gauge. at which time it was considered safe to make a start.

In goes the drill.  28th December 2010.

It wouldn't start on trying, and after determining that everything was working as it should, and wondering what it could possibly be, I looked at the twin wiring to the coil and told  myself that one of these was a 12v direct feed from the starter solenoid, which is now out of use, and this further told me that this must be a ballasted 9v coil set up.  The efi coil is a 12v coil and so was not generating sufficient current to spark very well.  I "hot wired" it from an ignition feed and it burst into life immediately.  It has now been rewired thus.



All this being done, it was time to finish off top side. Firstly a dilemma.  Was I going to spoil my lovely new smoothly curved back end with a number plate?  Obviously this is a compulsory fitment, but apart from this sticky one being smoother than a plastic one, it would still necessitate drilling holes for number plate lights and make a lot of clutter.  Ouch. 

This sticky one doesn't look right anyway.  The letters are the modern variety and are too narrow.

This was 8th December 2010


Quite a lot of time ensued between the above picture and a solution which keeps my lovely smooth curvy rear intact!

You may not like it: it isn't for the purists, (but then neither is the rest of the car), it may be controversial, and I had to keep looking at it for days, (and still am), wondering about it: BUT, it is removable with a few screws, with no trace of fitment, it is different, lends a certain style to a reshaping of the rear end, and does demonstrate a bit of what I can do with a sheet of aluminium and some thought, so as my lovely smooth curvy rear is now intact and beautiful, it will stay this way for the foreseeable future.  (At least until it gets laughed off the field at the first Classic Car meet!

Here it is. (The crooked badge is courtesy of blue tack).  Note that the bracket hole is now covered over with a reflector screwed to a fixing bar inside.  It is removable for the fitting of tow brackets or rotisserie brackets as is on the other side.

I have also decided to use the original number plates from  when the car was new.  These lend a lot of character to the whole vehicle, I think.

2nd January 2011

The step in the bottom edge is due to a black edging trim applied to see what effect it has.  The step is where the length ended.

And here it is from the all important rear.  Note the smoke from the now running, engine! Yes. It works!

2nd January 2011

This lower  valance was fitted with no impression on the body work by attaching it to the bottom flange of the valance using aluminium angle screwed on.  It has strength due to its curvature and is very solid. 

Persuading some aluminiuim angle into the right curvature to fit the outside of the valance, by a process of shrinking and stretching!

1st January 2011

A similar dilema was experienced for the front end.  The first thought was to use a stick on plate on the bonnet, Sebring style, but this didn't look that great to be honest, and this wasn't helped by the fact that the letters are too narrow.  Again, I didn't want to spoil my lovely smooth spoiler, but in this instance, sense ruled and as also it is a road car, not a track car, the plate was mounted in the best location possible, just at the bottom of the grill and above the air scoop underneath.


Back to some details and here, while assembling the doors, new rubber seals were fitted and the outer window seal is seen here being covered in Dinitrol before fitting, together with its clips, all of which rust horrendously as the steel insert in the rubber is not really protected.


Before fitting the door trims, a sheet of plastic is fitted to the inside of the door, which is sealed to tbe bottoms of the apertures to stop water ingress which spoils the trim cards and can end up in water inside the car.








The final problem?

All the while this assembly had been going on, it was known that I was having clearance problems with the new Minilite 8"x15" wheels, which had been shod with Pirelli P6000 225x60x15 tyres.  The clearance was fine to the car itself, but the issue was with the RV8 front end. 

Firstly the RV8 steering arms are too long and hit the rims.  The steering arms were exchanged for the original MGB ones, which fit except that the 7/16" unf holes of the MGB ones had to be reamed out to 12mm to take the RV8's M12 fixing bolts.  (Only about ½mm diameter.)

Secondly the RV8 / Range Rover twin pot calipers stick out so  much that they were rubbing on the inner boss and spokes.  This at first looked terminal until a bit of searching revealed that some Ford wheel studs use a very similar spline to the RV8 ones and so a set of 63mm Ford 13.1mm diameter extended studs were sourced and fitted in place of the originals.  Both are M12 x 1.5mm thread.  These studs give an extra extension of 15mm, which, with suitable spacers, is ideal.

15th November 2010.  RV8 steering arms to the outsides, MGB ones to the insides


25th December 2010.  Comparison with original and new extended studs in RV8 hub.


Direct side by side comparison of studs.  The Ford one does not have the taper, but has a bigger head, both in diameter and thickness, so was passed for fitness, the taper being uneccessary.


One hammered home, one nearly so.  They take a lot of hammering in.


Fitted with spacers. Disc refitted to hub. 28th December 2010

Stub axle before hub refitment.  When taking the hubs off, just be careful to ease the bearings off all in one, and if they stick on the stub axle, give it a push from behind, as you don't want to separate the inners and outers.  It all should slide off easily all in one.

Finally Rolling