1954 MG TF
Pre-purchase pix, February, 2010
It was our plan to buy a TF to renew our acquaintance with the vintage MG's, as we had owned a TD in the early 1960's. We wanted a car that we could drive in between restoration sessions. With this one we envisioned doing bodywork initially, this year, and reserving the engine and perhaps chassis/suspension work for next "cool season". We'll see how well this plan holds up thru the next few months.
It arrives, in covered trailer, from Florida to New Bern, early March. Unique Carriers, Inc., was the carrier, the driver was quite professional & helpful at both ends of the job.
We start looking around for a good, willing, body/restoration shop to do the body repair, painting, etc. Most auto body shops turn us down flat, they'd rather work on collision/insurance jobs where they know pretty well what they are getting into. We end up with Jim, at S. T. Restorations, close to home. Jim is an expert at Corvette restorations, and does other vintage vehicles as well. At this time, besides Corvettes, he has a bugeyed Sprite, a Mustang, and an old Chevy pickup in process. It would be about May 1 before he can take us in, so we have a few small jobs we can do while waiting (and enjoying some drive-time).
First off, to improve starting and general running, we purchase SU Carburetor rebuild kits from Joe Curto, including throttle spindles. They go together with little trouble, except getting the throttle plates to close as air tightly as possible takes a bit of fitting.
We also had ordered new canvas, top (hood), full tonneau cover, and side curtain covers, from Don Trimming Co., Ltd., in England www.donhoods.com. They had everything in stock and shipped quickly. They're a quality manufacturer, have been in business over 50 yrs supplying vintage car canvas. The price, even with shipping, was less than many sources in the US.
Next, Jim at S. T. suggests Cherry Coating, in Washington, NC, as the place to take the spoke wheels for bead blasting & powder coating. A quote is obtained, Jimmie Cherry picks up the wheels at S. T. after I have checked and adjusted them for trueness & tightness. Jimmie is done within a week, and we went up to his shop to pick them up. They're beautiful. We had ordered new tires to replace the tread-separating ones on the car, so they got mounted & all installed.
Now the knockoff-hubs need attn to live up to the wheel quality. I painted the brake drums flat black after this pic was taken.
Jim at S. T. called on Fri., Apr. 30, and said he'd be ready for the car on Mon. He had said he'd do as much or as little as we wanted,. I had decided that I would do the disassembly and re-assy of the removable parts, so set to work on the weekend, after we took our "last ride" on Fri. PM. I delivered 14 pieces to him Mon., all the fenders, running boards, etc., etc. I took many pix as I worked, and will put many of them up here to help me when things go back together.
I started on the left hand side, and took more pix there, particularly underneath to show bolts, etc.
The right side pix aren't quite as detailed as the general pattern is the same.
Spare tire holder and gas tank are next
The first group of chrome pieces came back from Phillips Plating the week of 6/21, the knock-off hubs and 8 chrome strips for the running boards and hood. There are 2 more groups there now, parking lights, headlight rims and door handles in one, windshield frame pieces and taillights in the next.
Paint/body work is coming along slowly, most pieces are ready for painting now, the rest close. Hopefully they'll be done the week after the 4th of July. Then the main body & chassis will go to them.
Almost all removable body pcs were painted by late-July, and the rolling chassis was taken to the shop on Aug. 2, where I removed the remaining cockpit items and the dashboard, plus stripped everything off the firewall. I have already purchased new wiring harnesses.
Sept. 11 Jim called from S. T. Restorations & said I needed to look at some wood rot that Tony, the body/paint guru had found. We knew there was some.
Sept. 17, right side, after I had cleaned it out some, pretty bad left side, before cleanout, not so bad
paint had been stripped and primer applied several weeks ago
Some good news today, I stopped by Phillips Plating, Mark was working on the windshield support brackets, said they'd get plated tomorrow. And, the rot restorer items I'd ordered came in, info on that process as it proceeds. When I stopped back by ST, Tony had the car in the paint booth to reprime after he had done some work around the rear fender wells. We're making progress, but Tony will be away next week, and the shop closed for some vacation Wed.- Mon. I'll do some rot-fixing on Mon. - Tues. Again, it's very nice that Jim allows me to work and save some labor $.
Sept. 20-21, rot areas sealed with Smith's CPES, then filled with their filler.
Oct. 14, Thurs. -- We're getting there!! - Jim called, from S T Restorations, he said, "everything that's supposed to be green is green, come see tomorrow and we can figure out how to get it home to you next week."
That's Jim on the left, and Tony, the paint/body guru, on the right.
Tuesday it was delivered on a trailer, and I made 2 or 3 trips with all the pieces in the back of the Pacifica. I've been working for almost a week now, to get the chassis cleaned up, primed and painted, so I can get the body parts back on. I started work at the rear end, here's a pic of it "before", and a couple to show my slow pace, Mon., 10/25/10.
Fri., 10/29 - finally got the gas tank all together and re-installed, with the rear apron, and a tire just for looks
then the rear fender on Mon., 11/1
Thurs., 11/4 - visible progress has slowed down a bit, more chassis & running gear scrape/paint, plus start getting stuff mounted on the firewall and thinking about the wiring harness. I realized that I needed to do some cleanup & paint work in the cockpit, under the dash. There was some old red paint, bare metal, etc., that needed to be covered up, so got that cleaned up on Wed. & Thurs., painted Thurs.
Fri., 11/12 finally finished scraping, priming and painting the chassis. And just to make some progress show above, put new felt in the toolbox.
Then on Sat. got started on the wiring. The main harness is in 2 sections, plus 2 "pigtails" for headlights, 2 more for front turn signals, and one more small harness for the dash panel.
Been slow for a week, but not because I haven't been working at it. Got the floorboards in, after doing some wiring and more missed chassis cleanup, then the left rear fender, last week. Now, Mon., 11/29, finished clean/paint, re-assemble the rear bumper, installed it and finished the luggage rack. Looks more like a car now, at least from the back.
The chrome shop has had equipment problems, so we're still waiting for the tail lights, dash instrument bezels, & door handles. Plus, have misplaced some grille parts, so can't get it installed, which must be done before installing hood side panels, front fenders and running boards.. Need the dash bezels before it can get installed. But there's still plenty to work on.
Sat., Dec. 11. The dash bezels were done this week at the chrome shop, and I got some grille parts from a very nice MG T-series owner in CO.
I've been working on wiring for a week, tho' it seems like a month. It's not just wires, it's the dash sub-panel, with the gauges to be mounted on it, nuts to be (re-)found for it and for the full dash, pieces cleaned, polished, etc. Then mount the pull cables for the starter and choke, get things adjusted, you name it, a million details. The windshield wipers need to be figured out also, the glove boxes can't be installed after the dash is bolted in because of the wiper shafts (found after it was too late), and the TF wiring diagram doesn't show the switch. The new harness also doesn't have wires for the switch, tho' I'm told that the folks who make the new harnesses, in England, work from old used harnesses that supposedly were correct. I did the sub-panel wiring first, after getting the full dash bolted in (but had to do the glove boxes before that). Cliff at City Upholstery had cut the vinyl box liners for us, and I had to rivet then into the metal boxes and cardboard "box tops", then get them bolted into the dash..
Always something -- The finished small panel won't go into the hole in the dash for it when the dash is bolted up. So, unbolt it (again) and let it hang down, slide the panel in and get the 6 mounting studs thru their holes, and then try to get the small nuts on them, and tight. When we worked on motorcycles we often said, "we don't have little yellow fingers like the Japanese who built the bike". Well, I don't expect the Brits had little fingers but maybe theirs were thinner and more flexible than mine.
it does look like we're making some progress. Now back to the grille and then the rest of the body parts.
Sun. -Mon.. 12/12-13, got the grille re-assembled and installed. Put the hood rt. side panel on, but ooops -- it's too long. It was bought new because the removed one was badly stretched/warped. Apparently the new replacements are made with extra length to be trimmed to fit. Well, we didn't realize it, ours got painted as it was. Need to trim 3/8" to 3/4" from each end.
the blue tape is to protect the edges from handling nicks, etc.
Tues., put the left side panel on to make sure it still fits, it does. Tony, the paint/body man will come by Thurs. to see the problem and get the fix in process. Also put the left side hood on, just loose, to see it's fit. Looks good. Need to ask Tony about getting the hood center strip installed on the hood panels, the new paint thickness keeps it from sliding on. Always something.
Mon., 12/20, Jim & Tony brought the trimmed panel back to check the fit before painting, plus they had taken the hood top panels and shaved some of the paint at the hinge areas, and had the hinge properly installed and working nicely. I worked with those pieces to make sure everything would fit well, and took the panel back to them on Tues. for painting.
Then I went back to the left side to finish all that I could. Got the running board chrome strips on, the headlight mounted, a grommet in the side panel for wiring, plus adjusted the hood latches after doing the final mounting of the hood top panels. Except for the door and taillight, I think the driver's side is done.
It's tough to get a good shot of this side after dark in the garage.
Wed., Jan. 5, got the final pieces from the chrome shop, the tail-lights. I had gotten the door handles on Mon. Got them all on, and doors adjusted, while waiting for the hood panel.
Fri., Jan. 7, the hood side panel finally came back. I worked thru the weekend & Mon. to get it, the rt front fender, & the running board installed and lined up, plus the headlight and parking light installed and wired. I got the chrome strips on the running board Tues. AM, and called the upholstery shop to say I'd have the car there on Wed. PM if the roads were clear and dry. Hoorah !
It turned out to be 38F on Wed. PM, but the roads were dried out after the 2" of snow we had Mon., so after putting on several layers of clothes, I headed down the road, about 12 miles, at 55 mph. The engine hadn't been started since May, but it ticked over just fine. Pat followed, we made it with no problems, hands were a bit chilly, but that's the worst of it.
Feb. 2, 2011 Work's been going on at City Upholstery for a week & a half. I took the steering wheel to clean it up so Cliff at City could make a leather cover for it. It was in pretty bad condition underneath the vinyl cover that was on it.
1. to start, cracked, chunks missing, shreds showing
2. after sealing with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer and filling with epoxy putty
3. after trimming/sanding the putty 4. after painting
5. Cliff's new leather cover
work at City (above) -- Cliff working on details, door panels, seats, "DynaMat" in place on floorboards, side curtain storage area with extra spaces
Tues., Feb. 8 The boot area is about done, door and kick panels ready to install.
Cliff was pulled off to another job, he now hopes to finish up the week of Feb. 14.
March 4, 2011, Fri. It's done at City Upholstery. Still some things to do at home, but we're getting close to the end. I drove it home, about 60F, top down. Did some work in the garage, changed oil, adjusted door latches, etc, and we went for a shakedown ride Sat. Will get the front bumper, etc., on in a day or 3, another drive or 2 if the weather cooperates, then back to S.T. for paint touchup and under fender paint.
Leather seats and steering wheel cover. Cliff did a real nice job.
More pix after getting the front bumper on and the headlights aimed & rims on.