Sunday, December 31, 2017

Beck TD: Welcome to Classic Motorsports readers!

If you have found your way to this blog via the article in Classic Motorsports magazine about the Beck's Brewery MG TD, welcome to the Grant Street Garage! I was thrilled to have a full-page article printed in the November, 2017 issue of Classic Motorsports about my MG project. If you would like to read the whole story so far, start at this link, which will lead you through multiple blog posts:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Beck TD, Part 12: First Drive!

After several months of work, Beck TD has taken its first drive under my ownership! Cool!

There's even a brief video:

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Today actually started with an enjoyable hour in Phil Oles' shop. He has a good supply of larger metal stock, and his larger machines can handle it. The project was to make some "ram extensions" for my new 12-ton press. Here I am deeply concentrating on my work:

The task on that lathe was to make some precise recesses that match the ram on my press. Three different sizes of drill bit, and then a one-inch end mill to create a flat pocket. 

When done, I had a set ranging from 3/4" tall to 3" tall. The steel shaft in the photo matches the size of the ram on my press.

As detailed in Part 11a, the breakthrough on the brakes was an early-morning phone call from Cor Engelen. He had noticed that the bolts holding the brake backing plate were reversed - that was the cause of the interference I was experiencing. The heads of the bolts are low-profile designs to clear that hub on the brake drum:

Because I've gotten so good at ripping those brakes apart, it was quick work to take everything apart and reverse the nuts and bolts. Except... on the passenger side, there was one bolt that didn't match - it was just a standard Whitworth bolt. I searched the box of bolts I got from prior owner Mark, looking for that last low-profile bolt, and didn't find it. So, I introduced Mr. Bolt to Mr. Lathe, and made it match. Here's a before-and-after.

Of course, after it was all assembled and buttoned up, I found the other original one. Oh well. As you'll read soon, I'll have it back apart again anyway. 

In replacing the brake drums, I got to use one of my new ram extensions to re-seat the bearings. Much better than the way I was doing it before, which involved a socket, a block of aluminum, and a deep hope that it didn't fall apart while trying to press.

After I had all the brakes back together and adjusted, I started bleeding the brakes. Troy Nace showed up, and helped. Then it was time to install the brand-new ball joints onto the brand-new steering rack, and align the front end. I'll take it to a real alignment rack soon, but for now I used a shade-tree technique. I clamped long levels to the brake drums, and then measured the distance between them at two spots around 3 feet apart. I adjusted the tie rods until the two measurements matched. I must have gotten it pretty close, because the car seems to drive fine.

Notice that we moved the jack stands from the frame to under the A-arms for this exercise, so that the car would be weighted as if it was on the ground.

After that, it was just a few more details, and off we went! It was a beautiful afternoon, cool but sunny, and since I have the transmission tunnel out right now (more on that in my next post), the exhaust system functioned as a very toasty heater. Lots of folks on the street exclaimed at the sight of an old "race car" on the street.

That will probably be its only real drive until spring. Lots of work still to do, with the top priority going to the planned upgrade to front disc brakes. The brakes right now are truly abysmal. I understand why former owner (and racer) Steve Fox told me that he sold the car because the brakes were so bad. I'm going to fix that, using Cor Engelen's design for front disc brakes.

But still! A pleasurable drive, and a great start! Many thanks to Troy for his help in reassembling the suspension. He got to be the passenger on the first drive!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Beck TD, Part 11a: UPDATE on A Recalcitrant Brake

-In Part 11, I described a week's worth of work trying to discern why the reassembled brake drum was dragging on the driver's side. I included that post in a message to the Volvo-Engined MGs Group. I was surprised this morning by a 7:00 AM call from Cor Engelen, one of the group members who helped me get the car back home from Virginia. He had seen the post, and noticed this picture:

He said, "Those nuts should be on the back side! Those are special low profile bolts, and if you turn them around the hub will clear just fine."  Good to know!

I don't even feel bad about this, because I wasn't the one who made that mistake - the prior owner had already assembled the backing plates before the project stalled. In fact, I'm kind of glad it happened, because the Grant Street Garage gained a new press as part of the proceedings, and I learned a ton about using it, and about drum brakes in general.

So... both sides come back apart to fix that, and then we're really back on track!

Continue on to Part 12....

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beck TD, Part 11: A Recalcitrant Brake

Way back at the beginning of this saga in Part 1, I told how we cobbled together the front suspension just enough to push the Beck TD onto a trailer for its trip home from Virginia. Ever since, that loosely assembled suspension, with no brake shoes in the drums and nuts just finger tight, has waited for its turn. And it finally came!

The first order of business was to take everything apart. That was just straightforward mechanic work, but the brake drums were a trial. It turns out that MG designed the hub that holds the wheel bearing as an integral part of the drum. The internet was full of stories about how hard it is to get apart. Back in the day, MG dealers had a special tool, but those are long gone. I wound up creating a wooden extension that bolts to the brake drum and allows a modern two-jaw puller to be used:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Beck TD, Part 10: Coupling the Steering

When I installed the steering rack using custom hardware in Part 8, I didn't mention that it wasn't quite done. There's a part called the "pinion shaft flange" that isn't included on the new rack, and in fact, is not available for purchase due to the difficulty of manufacturing it. The flange looks like this - it's the one I removed from the old rack:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Beck TD, Part 9: It runs!

Well, when you have important news, start at the end: it runs! It runs! It runs!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Beck TD, Part 8: Getting Close!

In the last post, I described some custom nuts and washers for mounting the new steering rack and the front body pan. After posting, I did a bit of cleaning and painting, and started putting things back together. I quickly realized that I needed one more bit of lathe work to get the steering rack reinstalled - some heavy steel washers to use with the Grade 8 socket head cap screws I had chosen:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Beck TD, Part 7: Custom Stuff

Some days, you just don't feel like getting dirty. And some days, you just want to play with your home shop machinist stuff - the milling machine and lathe. I know you all have felt that from time to time.

Today was that day, and I had something specific in mind. In Part 6, I was grumbling about inaccessible nuts and bolts while digging my way down to the steering rack. I decided to do something about it.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Beck TD, Part 6: Digging Deeper

After getting the radiator modified in Part 5, you would think that I would have put it in right away and finally started the engine. However, I realized that if I did that, I would have to take it all apart again in order to install the brand new steering rack that prior owner Mark gave me. Far better to dig deeper and replace that before putting the cooling system back together.

To do that, you first must detach the rack from the frame, and that was the first trial. Those nuts and bolts were seriously inaccessible. In this photo, I drew a circle around the back bolt head. No room to move a wrench to get it from below, although I did need to keep a wrench on it to keep it from turning. I guess the British hadn't invented captured nuts in 1952.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Beck TD, Part 5: Rectifying the Radiator

In Part 2 of this saga, I left things in a bit of a mess, and then teased you with two subsequent posts that didn't even mention the problem. To remind you, after assembling the engine side of the cooling system and installing the radiator, I was left with a significant mismatch in the outlets, and a clearance problem between cooling fan and the lower radiator outlet. Here's that photo again:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Beck TD, Part 4: Fun With RPM Numbers

Cor Engelen and I have been having a conversation off-list about rear gear ratios. I know the stock TD ratio of 5.125 to 1 is too low (numerically high) for our powerful Volvo engines. Charlie Baldwin and Joe Lazenby solved the problem with overdrive transmissions, but Cor went with a 3.9 to 1 ratio out of an MGA. He reported that it works well.

I found a nicely priced used rear end on eBay today, and after showing the auction to Cor and conferring with the seller that the rear was complete, I bought it. Just one more project in a mountain of projects, but that's why I bought this car, after all.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Beck TD, Part 3: History!

I have been doing some research on the Beck's Brewery TD, trying to figure out its history. While on vacation, I spent a lot of time on the web after returning to the hotel each night, trying to find something. I found no mention in the Internet record, but I did find an interesting link. I remembered that the car is wearing a sticker for the South Jersey region of the Sports Car Club of America, region 84.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Beck TD, Part 2: Taking Stock and Getting Started

I sure was excited after getting the Beck's Brewing MG TD (hereinafter called "Beck TD") into the Grant St. Garage in Part 1. The only small problem is that we left it pointing the wrong way! A couple of days later, John Zimmerman and Mark Forsha and I were having lunch, and I imposed on those guys to help me push the car back and forth to turn it around. Once done, I got it into the air:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Finger Treadle, Part 4

At the end of Part 3, I stated that I wanted to finish the Finger Treadle in time for a library demo on July 22nd. That's today, and I had it finished with time to spare! No more need to show you a photo from a magazine - here's mine, and I'm quite pleased at how it turned out:

I even made a brief video showing the treadle in action:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Beck's Brewery MG TD, Part 1

Well, now I've done it. I went and bought a car even older than I am! It's a 1952 MG TD, converted to racing spec some decades ago. Part of that work was to install an engine and transmission from a period Volvo - a very common modification in the 60's and 70's that doubled the horsepower. Here's a photo sent by Mark, the prior owner, when it was all together:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Finger Treadle, Part 3

Man, this "simple" project seems like it's taking forever! Of course, it was probably designed to occupy, for example, a high school shop class for an entire semester, so it takes the time it takes. Just for consistency, here's the photo from the original plan one more time:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Finger Treadle, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I got started on a machinist's training project called a "finger treadle." Here's the picture again, from a 1991 issue of Projects in Metal,  to jog your memory:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Finger Treadle, Part 1

You know what a treadle is, right? It's usually foot-powered, and converts an up-and-down motion to a rotary motion. The classic example is a treadle sewing machine:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Marquis de Lafayette

Mary Ellen and I have just returned from a little three-day trip to Cape May, NJ, and I'm going to take a departure from my regular blog subjects to do a little travelogue with lots of pictures. We hadn't been to Cape May in over 20 years, but remembered it fondly for its gentle beach atmosphere and the lovely Victorian homes everywhere in town.

Another thing I like about Cape May is that, although it is a "resort" destination, it doesn't have the draw of the nearby casino cities, and therefore has been ignored by the corporate chains. All of the beachfront hotels date from around the 50's and 60's, and we decided to return to one that was a faded gem even 20 years ago: the Marquis de Lafayette. This is a two-star hotel in modern ratings, but it is large, spacious, scrupulously clean, and right in the middle of things:

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Sticky Light

This little guy is the JANSJĂ– LED Work Lamp from Ikea. It's standing in its own spotlight, so to speak: