Tuesday, December 4, 2018

More on that Speaker Box

I've continued to tinker on the box I started over the Summer (see MGB Gets Sound). Today's post covers some of the headway.

Sub Hole
I had about 2 hours of forecasted rain-break on a Saturday that also coincided with a reasonably good game of college football. So, I was torn, but I figured that I could do something on the box on the back patio and sort of keep track of the game through the sliding glass door. Yes, this sounds like a set up that ends with a board sticking out of said glass door, but actually, it all went relatively well. I started with measurements to find the exact center of the rear of the box. Centering on that with a compass, I drew a 9-inch diameter circle to cut. First, I set the panel on the box with the drawing side facing in, so I could check my spacing, and sure enough, that would have been a miss. Because of the bump in the center of the rear frame of the MGB, I have a corresponding bump in the box. To account for that, I need to slide the 9 inch hole towards the top by a half-inch or so. Another quick turn with the pencil, another upside-down check and I'm ready to cut.

way too many pilot holes around the
edge: don't do that
I drilled a pilot hole with a drill bit that was just larger than the saw blade. Then, I made the mistake of thinking that cutting the hole on a bias rather than at 90* was a good idea. Big picture, I may have retained a little more meat of the MDF, but it created a lot more fit challenges. Anyway, I cut the circle and test fit the subwoofer (still in the plastic bag to protect it from the dust). Yeah.. it fit through the top fine, but hung-up on the inner part of the circle because of that bias. To remedy, I attacked the inner lip with various tools: a file, the Dremel, sandpaper.. Eventually, the inner edge widened out and the sub fit. Word to the reader: don't cut on a bias; follow the directions from the sub-woofer manufacturer and trust that when they say the hole needs to be x in diameter, they mean both the top and bottom edges unless otherwise stated. With the sub capable of fitting in the box, I switched back over to the 6x9's.

The sub-woofer sites stress re-enforcing the edges of your box because of the force the speaker will exert upon it. I used some of the scrap MDF from the box construction to brace the corners. I've toyed with more bracing in the middle of the box. I may hold off and see how it performs before gluing the rear panel, and sealing my fate.

6x9 Fiddling
I had 2 things I needed to resolve with the 6x9's. First, the box needed threaded studs on the outside so the 6x9 could be attached and replaced from the outside. For this, I found some 1" long bolts that came with some kitchen drawer knobs. These are thin enough to easily fit through the mounting holes on the speakers, but don't protrude too far past the MDF edge to present fitting issues later. Best of all, I have 8 of them. So, I pulled one of the 6x9's from the rear firewall, test fit in the box holes, marking where the mount holes are and set it aside. A few quick runs with the drill, and I was threading the bolts through from the inside. I test mounted the speakers, and they will work great. I will need to be careful about carpeting, though, as the bolts really don't stick out very far. I may need to trim the carpet at the speaker edge rather than wrap through the hole. We'll see.

I then pulled the 6x9's out of the box and started test fitting the box into the trunk of the MGB. Post-assembly, the box is a smidgen taller than space would allow. Enter the Dremel again. I shaved down the front corners to fit under the fuel tank vent lines, and, after a couple hours of fiddling, I was able to get the box flush against the rear firewall. Once I had the box exactly where I liked it (dead center), I reached through with a Sharpie and marked where the 6x9's would need new cut-outs in the rear firewall. Recall that this firewall had been cut up pretty badly by the PO and I slapped together something to make it less crappy. Now, with these new holes, it is PO-level of crappy again. I'll need to do something eventually to make it nicer. Anyway, I cut along the Sharpie lines with my jig-saw. With the speakers back in the box, I set the box into the trunk against the firewall, wired up the speakers with the version 2 wires and tested the system.

We have sounds again. I spent most of a Saturday getting this far. I'll post next time on getting the rest ... or maybe just a little more headway... done. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Herd Thinning

Purging unneeded items has become a bit of the thing for Boo and me. When we moved from the house next door, our square footage dropped by over 20%. We have been steadily selling off, donating or otherwise dumping belongings ever since. On the inside and in the yards, things are approaching the uncluttered aesthetic we both like. But, the cars hadn't reached that point until now. In posts earlier this summer, I about lamented how many vehicles I had. Such a first-world problem I look back on with some embarrassment. Since then, I have thinned the number of cars down to something manageable. So, today, we'll walk through those cars which are no longer with us.

Jetta Wagon
My step son K bought a 2001 TDI Wagon with an auto-trans 3 years ago. It ran very well for the first year before the transmission started acting up to the point where it would not go into reverse unless it was warmed up. So, he was driving it, but reversing to park everywhere. Sometimes, that's not exactly easy. So, after a few months of that, he backed it into our driveway. Almost 18 months later, he has moved it again, this time to where he's living, but the transmission is still bad. The picture to the right here was after Boo spent a day cleaning it at the end of it's 18 month visit. K's wagon may be coming back for a transmission swap, but, hopefully not until next summer, if then.

Nemo - the A4
The A4 was T's replacement for the white Jeep Cherokee (Jaws) that he sold. There have been a few posts about getting this car back operational, but few pictures. This one here is as T left for school where Nemo is now (see Let's See). I think the radiator is getting replaced as I write this.

At the peak of the car-jam, I had 2 280ZX's. The DonorZ gave us a complete interior (except headliner), some replacement tail lights, and a few other odds and ends. It was sold to a 280ZX collector / restorer based out of Hillsboro.

Dude was a gold 2001 Saturn SC2 that Boo had owned for 17 years. We had initially freed it from our yard by lending it to a friend who needed a car. He used it to drive fellow elderly residents to appointments and the grocery store. Unfortunately, the frequency and severity of property crime in SouthEast Portland has only gotten worse since I lived there. Our beloved Dude, which you could start by putting a slotted screwdriver into the ignition, was stolen from outside the 55+ living facility where our friend lived. The genius who stole it destroyed the ignition cylinder and the entire steering column, only to leave the car and his tools in plain sight. The police found and impounded the car within 24 hours of it being stolen, tools and all. At the yard, it was clear that the ignition and steering could not easily be restored, so the car was classified as "totaled". We miss you, Dude.

2 years ago, I broke down while driving Hapy to my old job (see Running on Empty). Boo and I had just been struggling with other cars and we found ourselves with one car and 2 people who needed auto-transpo just to get to work. We were at our wits end for broken cars so, enter the FR-S. I haven't really posted about that car. We bought it from a used lot down in Salem after we were bait-switched for a different one with fewer miles, and an automatic transmission. "You didn't really want that one," the scum-salesman said. Actually, we wanted an automatic for Boo to drive since she was spending a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic and the shifting was aggravating her shoulder. Anyway, we got the car and drove it a little here and a little there. Even back when Flash's clutch failed (See Oh Clutch), we really didn't drive him. Mostly, my job change shortly after purchasing it reduced our need: I take the train to work now. So, 2 years and less than 10k miles later (actually about 15k kilometers for everyone NOT in the US), we sold it off. Between the payments and the insurance, it is a car we didn't need and a luxury we no longer felt driven to pay for. Pardon the pun.

What's Left
So, with all of those cars no longer around, our driveway is uncharacteristically empty. We have Hapy, the bus which launched this blog, stored under the BusDepot bus-cover for the winter. We have Oliver, the MGB, in the garage waiting to get the interior done. We have the keeperZ (who still needs a name) in the other garage bay steadily getting closer to paint. And, of course, we have Flash, the TDI-powered Jetta that got me turned on to turbo-diesels in the first place.

Approaching Blog Silence
The work on the Zed is going to be long and not terribly post-worthy for a while. I have a few more areas to strip and then it's body-fill and sand time. I may take a break to do some things on Oliver's interior, but even that may pause in case we need to drive him now that we're down to one operational car. So, there could be a break in my regular posts since there won't be much to post about. In the event I suspend posts while I generate new content have a Hapy ThanksGiving, White Friday and seasonal Holidays.

Thanks for following along.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Z Progress

It's been quite some time since I posted an update on the 280ZX project. Today, I'll catch everyone up. For my US former military readers, Happy belated Veteran's Day and thank you for your service.

Tear Down Blocks
In my last post about the Zed in March (See Strip Tea Z), I described the tear down of the donorZ, and even posted the link to the craigslist sale of the picked-over shell. We found a buyer, a guy who rebuilds old 240's, 260's and 280's, and he knew there was some remaining value in what we sold him. To make the sale work, I had stripped lots of good stuff, and stashed them wherever I could find a place in the small garage. Mostly, these parts were set inside the keeperZ (Zed). This had the unfortunate side-effect of reducing the interest in working on the Zed. So, this past weekend, K2 and I emptied the Zed of all of the parts we were storing in there. This created a need to deal with the shedroom.

When it was conceived, the shedroom was a "couple months" solution (See 280ZX * 2 = Y). Now, over 9 months later, it has persisted. Boo and I decided that we needed to embrace the shedroom, and set it up better than the basic pile of parts on the floor that it had become. Otherwise, the work which has stagnated will never restart. So, similar to the interior of the Zed, we moved all of the parts out... into the hallway. Then, we installed a set of monster shelving and organized the parts onto it. This made the space much larger, and more useful... and allowed for all the other parts from the inside of Zed to fit. So, now we have the Zed empty of spares, and parked in the driveway (under a 10x10 canopy), ready to be worked on.

Auto Shop Class
K2 has started an auto-shop course in high school. This is the only such course available in the state of Oregon, and has a class size of less than 20, so it's kind of a big deal. Gone are the days of every high school having a shop like this. As I said, Oregon only has one. From this class, K2 is learning things that he is now teaching us. Included in this growing list of teachings is the multi-point inspection.

K2 wanted to do some work on the Zed after we emptied it of spares. The auto-shop class is much more focused on mechanical than body or interior stuff, and he felt that doing classwork stuff would help him retain the teachings. So, he set to doing a full inspection of the Zed, recording his findings for us to evaluate. My sole influence was for him to write everything down, and not to filter anything out due to concern that we wouldn't want to do the fix. Similar to having the boys decide if a car was purchase-worthy, I want the boys to drive what is or is not in need of repair, based on diagnostics not cost or convenience. The list was pretty long, including the brake booster and radiator replacements, and a full tune up. That's totally fine. I tell them that money should only guide "when" not "if" something should be done. If it is a safety item and you can't afford to fix it, get a bus pass until you can.

Sunroof Returns
With weather changing, our window for getting the grinding done before winter arrives is closing. I don't think we're going to get the exterior paint-ready before then, but I think we can get the old paint off before pushing Zed back into the garage for body-fill. How we manage the sanding of that body-fill will be the adventure that follows. With K2's preference for mechanical, I expect he'll get after the tune-up and radiator replacement completely independent of the exterior work. After another weekend day dedicated to the paint, we have stripped the fenders, hood, driver door, rear quarter panels, and roof. All that's left is the rear hatch and the passenger door: both of which can be done on the front porch. So, we are ready for the seasonal rains and the winter that follows. We can figure out body filler along the way.

the grind
The early 280ZX delivered with a sunroof. The donorZ was a late 280ZX, and it shipped with T-tops. Our early model, however, arrived without the sunroof. The prior owner who made such memorable decisions as removing the less-than-one-pound rear speaker panel, gutting the interior for weight and hacking the wiring so the fuel pump and ignition were triggered by switches also decided to remove the glass sunroof and weld on a patch panel. And weld it poorly with gaps and burn-thru. To resolve the leaks, the seam was "sealed" with duct tape. Neat. I had a couple of hours on a Saturday, and the sky, while threatening, wasn't supposed to open up with rain for a couple of hours. So, I backed the Zed into the driveway. The duct tape removed with a razor blade, and within about 15 minutes I was able to knock the patch panel free simply by hammer a wedge into the spotty gap, focusing on the welds. I cleaned up the edge with my angle grinder and then switched over to my wire-brush. I cleaned up all the spots where I'd used the chemical stripper, removing the flash-rust that appeared in the time since. It is interesting how the steel wire brush stripping doesn't leave the surface susceptible to flash rust, but the chemical does. One more factor to include in the mental-math when I look at paint removal in the future.

That's it for today. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cowling the Hapy Radiator

Brief post today. Before I begin, you'll notice that the advertisements are gone. I never made a penny on having them there, and I think we get bombarded with too much advertisement anyway, so now we will all enjoy a less cluttered, advertisement-free experience. On to the new radiator fan shroud...

Fan Shroud or Cowling
as pulled from shipping box
Modern cars and many older cars, have something on the rear side of the radiator surrounding the fan. This shroud or cowling helps pull air through the radiator when the fan is on. Since auto makers don't spend a penny where they need not, I have come to the conclusion that the shroud helps keep temperatures down. Initially, I thought it was to protect fingers when the fan snapped on, but I've since learned from reading articles that these shrouds do help pull air through the radiator and can reduce temperatures by up to 40%.

Hapy Rad Background
Since I did the engine swap on Hapy, he had been running without a tailored shroud. I put a cowling of sorts around the outer edge, but that was mostly to help keep the waste hot air from re-circulating into the radiator intake. I'm not sure how well that worked, but let's assume it worked okay. I had 2 fans on the bottom, with the intent to pull air through the radiator, but it is entirely possible that lots of air leaked around the edges of the fan, greatly reducing their cooling capability. So, I went to eBarf looking for an aftermarket shroud, in hopes of finding something that could bolt onto the new Mishimoto radiator. While I could have fabricated one, if I could find one inexpensive enough, I'd go with a bolt-on.

front p-side corner
The radiator size I have is from a Jetta3, and fortunately, there are many of these still on the road, creating a market for things like an aftermarket shroud. I had to try a few sources, though, as the supply is drying up, or those who manufacture and import them have been carefully managing their inventory due to the new import tariffs. Anyway, I found a seller and $90US on eBarf later, I have a direct-replacement shroud with fans.

The mounting holes lined up perfectly with the mount holes on the Mishimoto radiator. This made the install crazy easy. I cut the cable-ties (zip-ties) which held on the old fans, unplugged the wires and set them aside. I cut the plastic bag off the new shroud and slid it between the radiator and the metal strap which holds the sides together (see the bottom picture). I removed the 10mm bolts which held the radiator to the support frame, fit the radiator mounting tabs into place and re-threaded the bolts into their respective holes. Once the wires were plugged back in (black to ground, blue to switched 12V from the relay), the install was complete. I flipped the fan switch on the dash to confirm everything was good (both fans spinning, and both in the right direction).

I have set the old fans aside, planning to reuse one of
them for the MGB. With the new cowling and fans, I hope the days of watching my temperature gauge are over. We could have a few nice days ahead, but rains are pretty much upon us now, so the likelihood of getting a hardy test before spring is unlikely. Regardless, I expect that it is no worse than it was. If so, I can easily revert back, but that would be quite a surprise.

With the conclusion of this effort, Hapy is back "in the bag": covered with the BusDepot bus cover for the winter. It is always a sad day when we cover him up, knowing that the summer didn't quite have as many camping or festival adventures as we wished. I sincerely hope that I can get him uncovered and out for drives early enough next season to shake out the issues so we can have an adventure-filled summer.

That's it for today. For my US readers, Hapy Election Day. Whatever your politics, please express them at the polls. One day, I hope, we can return to discussing political opinions as rational people without raising voices, alarms, or threats. Yes, my non-US friends, it has become that dire here. Thanks for following along-

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

MGB alignment

In a rare moment of peaceful reflection, I realized that when I rebuilt the front end of the MGB, I failed to perform an alignment. Today's brief post is about how to do that.

Caster, Camber and Toe
On modern cars, a front end alignment involves tweaking three different adjustments. Caster is the rotational pitch the front wheel revolves on. This is hard to put into words, but picture the front wheel on a shopping cart and how it wobbles when you get a "bad" one. Your front wheel can have the same effect, caused by the castor being off. Camber is what the tuners and drifters use for either visual effect or performance. Camber speaks to how much the top of the tires tilt away from or towards the car. Toe references how much the front or rear of the tire is closer to the center line of the car. Of the three, only Toe is adjustable on an MGB.

Frozen Nut
Like so many parts on the old bus, when I got under the MGB to loosen the lock nut on the tie rods, both nuts were frozen in-place. I applied heavy amounts of WD40 Rust Release Penetrant to break them free, but they remained stuck after soaking overnight. I continued to spray that stuff for a total of 4 days (2 applications a-day). They wouldn't budge. Grrr.. fun with rust. So, I thought this would be a great opportunity to compare various penetrating oils. I dug around my garage and found that I had Tool Box Buddy (by Lucas Oil) and the classic PB Blaster in addition to the WD40 penetrant. Experiment time!

I switched to the Tool Box Buddy. From the start, the Tool Box Buddy acted differently. The WD40 spray would land on the tie-rod threads, but mostly just drip off onto the ground. I had to spray quite a bit on there to feel like it was getting under the nut at all. In contrast, I could watch the Tool Box Buddy wick under the nut when I sprayed it on, and far less dripped onto the ground. Once I saw that, I figured the WD40 product just wasn't as well made for the task. I wanted the experiment to be fair, though so for as close a comparison as I could make, I followed the same pattern of spraying some on twice a day: morning and night. I realize that it is possible that there could have been some residual benefit from the WD40, but considering how immobile the nuts were before switching, I don't think there was much. After 4 applications of the Tool Box Buddy, I tried to move the nuts. They still wouldn't budge, or more accurately, no matter how firm a grip I put on the tie-rod, it would still move in the grips when I put pressure on the nut. So I went a different way.

I hit the neighborhood Ace Hardware and got 2 9/16" fine-thread nuts ($0.85US each). I completely loosened the clamp holding the rubber boots and then lifted the front wheels off the ground. I then turned the tie-rod until it separated from the tie-rod end, and threaded the 2 new nuts on the end. I snugged the 2 nuts together, locking the outer nut from moving inward. I put a 7/8" socket on the outer nut, clicked in a breaker bar for torque and then started working on the frozen locknut with my 7/8" spanner. With a little more encouragement from the Tool Box Buddy, the nut loosened up. I continued to apply Tool Box Buddy on the area where the nut had been frozen, while moving the nut over the area again and again. Finally, the grooves were clear of whatever was causing the issue. Once cleared, I removed the old nuts and threaded the 2 new ones on. While I could have re-used the original nuts, I figured they would probably seize again. To reduce that probability with the new nuts and the tie-rod ends, I slathered copper anti-seize on the threads before re-assembling.

How to Measure Toe
With the lock nuts threaded back a few threads, you're ready to adjust. First, you need to know where your current state is. The car needs to be on the ground with the wheels pointing as straight-forward as you can manage. The steering wheel should be pretty much straight as well, but it's most important that the tires are pointing as forward as possible. Unless you have a high-riding car, you will probably have body and other parts between the mid-points of your tires. So, you can't just measure between the 9:00 and 3:00 positions like we did on the bus. We need some crafty thinking.

So, grab a Carpenter's Square, some blue painters tape and a pen. You will be making 4 tape/pen marks. For each tire, set the carpenter's square against the inside of the front-most bit of rim and the rear-most bit of rim, with the other end flat on the floor. To make sure my square was pointing at the right angle, I put a broom handle against the tires and aligned the ends of the square parallel to the handle. Put a spot of tape under the end of the square on the floor so you have an inch or so on either side (left-to-right) of the end of the carpenter's square. Then, mark on the tape with a pen where the edge of the square sits on the tape. Repeat until you have 4 pieces of tape, each with a pen mark on them, to indicate where the square end was. Next, measure between the front pair and the rear pair of lines. Write those numbers down. Add them together and divide by 2. The result is the number you should have if you want no toe-in, no toe-out. Some cars are supposed to run that way. The MGB is more like the VW bus in that it needs a slight toe-in to handle best. For the MGB, the rear measurement should be 1/16 of an inch larger. On my MGB, the front was a full inch larger, so I had some pigeon-toe happening.

Adjust Toe
Since the tie-rods on the MGB are ahead of the axles, I needed to shorten my rods. This is done by threading the rod more deeply into the rod ends through rotating rods. With each rotation, the rods will move a little bit, but recognize that for each fraction of an inch the front moves, the rear moves as well, so move it a little and then repeat the carpenter's square measure method a few times. Because the carpenter square method is a little crude, expecting to get to within 1/16 of an inch is improbable. My goal was to get it as close as I could.

Test Drive
My prior test drive was interrupted by spongy brakes, which persist, but not as much as before. Maybe the air is working it's way out. The steering on that drive was not as crisp as I wanted, which is what prompted my considering the alignment, and had me remember that I never did it after all the front end work. Like any test after alignment, it is best to start with very slow driving, in your driveway, expanding the distance and speed slowly. I followed that pattern just as I did with the old bus. Now, with the front end aligned, and all the other front end work completed (refurbished front beam with all new bushings, new front shocks, new tie-rod ends, cleaned and re-greased steering..) I can really feel how this little car was designed to feel. Highly responsive steering, but there's some pitch or body-roll in the corners. Before I think about the sway bar, I need to replace the tires. The roll could simply be from the tire sidewall starting to fail, and these tires were old when I bought the rims.

That's it for today. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

MGB Exhaust Re-Do (Part 2)

Picking up where I left off, we have the MGB front end on jack-stands and the old exhaust sitting in a heap in the driveway. Today's post will be about getting the new exhaust installed. Recall, it is a ceramic-coated stainless steel Bell system. I left the packing plastic bags on the pipes as I handled them to protect the finish, removing the plastic as I installed them.

Setting The Scene
exhaust hammer example
from streettechmag.com
With break time over, we set to trying to install the new exhaust. The Bell system has 5 pieces: the header, a straight-ish pipe, the center resonator, another straight-ish pipe with a support bracket attached and then the tail muffler. They go on in that order. The hardest part, like with any car, is getting the header to fit around all of the various other things in the engine bay. I watch car shows on Velocity and some of those installs require hammering on the pipes to get them to fit. That would really suck. Spend all that money for a "bolt on" set of pipes and then have to dent the snot out of them to fit an otherwise stock engine and compartment. Doesn't seem right, but does explain the custom fabrications they do on some of those Velocity shows. Even then, it's usually because they're slamming a huge non-stock engine into a classic-ish car. For a built-for-stock engine, hammering dents into the pipes shouldn't be necessary. Anyway...

From Below?
For the MGB, this saga starts with getting the front end way up in the air. We had a good 18" of clearance and still couldn't feed the header up from below. Some internet posts I've read indicate this is super easy, but I suspect anyone who installed that way had a lift or a pit. We have neither so we switched to going in from above. That meant removing the bonnet.

From Above
attached for fitting the rest
of the pipes
The bonnet is held to the hinges with 2 bolts per side, but remove the hood prop first. Once the prop is off, one person holds the hood still from the front while another person (K2 in this case) loosens all the bolts, and removes one from each side. At this point, it would be wise to put a shop towel or something soft under each rear corner of the hood. Then, remove a final bolt from one hinge. Balance the hood on your shoulder and let it slide down onto the towel. Repeat with the other side and then each person grabs a side of the hood and walk it off the front. For fun, we set it (on pads) on top of the 280ZX hood. The MGB hood looks like a toy hood compared to the Zed hood. The MGB hood is at least 6 inches smaller all the way around.

center-mount bracket
With the hood removed, you next loosen the driver side engine mount. The two nuts which hold the engine to the mount are the easiest to get to, and present the least necessary to separate the engine from the frame rail. With nuts safely stowed, place a wood block on a floor jack and slide it under the driver-side of the oil pan / engine block. Carefully lift the engine from below (setting the block of wood so the oil pan and other parts are not damaged) an inch or so. Once you feel considerable resistance to the lift, stop lifting. Now, have your helper fit a pry bar between the engine mount and the engine and then apply pressure to shift the engine slightly towards the passenger side. The engine will more roll anti-clockwise than slide left-to-right, but this creates enough space. Hold the header vertically, with the head-tips pointing across the top of the engine. Slide the header as far down into the largest space you can go before rotating the header so the head-tips point up and away from the firewall. On this particular header, there are pinch-welds along the sides of the collector. These pinch welds wanted to hang up on pretty much everything on the way down. With some gentle and some not-to-gentle persuasion, the header pushed past the space between the block, the steering column and the frame allowing us to wiggle it into the right spot near the head. At this point, the pry-bar leverage can be released and the floor jack released, letting engine rest back on the mount. We had to wrestle it a little bit, but it settled. Our header ended up with a couple minor scuffs, but no scratches.

To get everything else to align, K2 bolted the header onto the head. K2 was done for the day at this point, and the rest of the install was not going to be as straightforward, so I cut him loose.

Body Brackets
header from below
While K2 attached the header to the head for fitment / alignment, my focus was on the 2 mounting brackets. The center mount reuses the original body mount holes with a new steel and rubber mount that simply threaded in with new bolts (in the kit). The rear mount also reuses the original body mount holes. If yours are still in great condition, you could reuse them. With the body brackets on, I could start lining up the pipes, and get a feel for what went where.

The fourth pipe (second straight-ish) had a bracket that was a simple flat bar wrapped around the underside of the pipe with a round hole at each end. The center-mount kit provided a bolt, 4 large flat washers, 2 plastic sleeves, a bit of metal flashing with holes and some small nuts and bolts. There were no instructions, but you could tell that the bolt went through the holes in the flat bar. A flat washer went between the flat bar and anything else that touched it. Between the ends of the flat bar, on the bolt, went the plastic sleeves and the nut went on the end. Neat. With some careful bending of the flat bar with my channel-lock pliers, I was able to get the operation together. The bit of metal flashing was to wrap around the plastic sleeves and then bolt to the center-mount bracket I had just attached to the car.
second straight-ish pipe mounted

To get the fourth pipe and centermount to align and fit, all of the pipes between that mount and the header need to be in place. Start with getting the pipes in the rough spot you expect them to be. A straight-ish pipe (one that has a gentle bend or two) has those bends for a reason. Align them with the path of the original pipes. Once set in the right location, fit a pipe clamp between the pipes and then slide them together, wiggling the fit so they stay together and are in the right alignment. With careful use of a rubber mallet, I was then able to drive the various pipes together. Remember to set a pipe clamp at each junction before you start pounding things together or you won't have a way of clamping things together.

Rear Muffler
The final hurdle was figuring out the rear muffler mount. The old mount was a real hack job where a prior owner had taken a u-bolt that roughly fit the original body mount and threaded a nut on each end. So bad, but I really shouldn't judge. The original mount was almost German in it's over engineered solution. To the bracket is attached 2 rubber mounts pointing away from the exhaust pipe. To these rubber mounts, a hexagon bracket (with one leg removed) is attached, with the missing leg on the bottom. The missing leg has a pair of holes, one at each end, for attaching a pair of semi-circular clamps. These clamps hold the pipe in place. Unfortunately, they are sized such that if you put them on without any spacers (not included) they will either pinch the exhaust pipe because you tightened them too much or the lower clamp will fall off because you didn't tighten them enough... because you didn't want to pinch the pipe. To remedy, I found a pair of oversized nuts that would slip on, acting as spacers, so I could tighten everything down without pinching the pipe.

Header to Head
see the gap?
Once I had it all assembled front to back, I moved from back to front, tightening the mounts and pipe clamps. Once snug, I shifted to the very front to consider the mating of the manifolds to the head. The MGB came with a few types of exhaust, with 2 particular versions for the models before emissions standards became so tight (in 77) that the exhaust manifold needed to be redesigned. These 2 types have a different thickness of the material through which you send bolts to attach it to the head. The older one (#12H709) is thicker than the newer one (#12H3911). This is important because the intake and exhaust share studs and corresponding nuts. If the thickness of one manifold is not a match for the other, there is not a uniform amount of torque on the various manifolds, creating leaks. This applies to pretty much any combination of intake and exhaust, unless you stay completely original stock. Since the prior owner had replaced the dual carbs on my MGB with a side-draft Mikoni carb, and hacked together a home-grown exhaust, I was going to have to deal with this regardless.

When the header was attached for fitting the other pipes, I didn't look very closely. It didn't matter. With a closer look, you can see the washers were not sitting flush. Adding insult, only two of the thickness differences for the 4 shared studs were the same. To remedy, I grabbed some fender washers of varying thickness, and cut them in half (across the hole) to use as spacers. To hold the spacer in place during install, I used a very thin smear of the copper gasket maker I used on the header gasket. This plan worked great. In about 30 minutes I had spacers in place, and the header torqued down with washers sitting flush.

gap gone
All of this, nearly 2 full days of effort, lead up to the test fire. Of course, I had to re-assemble the air cleaner, and the hood is still off, but after verifying everything was back together, it was ready. I had been trickle-charging the battery, too, so I was pretty confident it was going to start right up. Fortunately, it did. It sounds great. It has a nice deep tone without being too loud. The biggest difference, I think, is that all of the growl sound comes from the rear of the car now. It must have had leaks before. With all of the rust, that's not a surprise. I wound the engine up to 3000RPM to get a sense of how it will sound on a power pull and it sounds pretty awesome. With the top down, the garage doors open and the rev counter around 3k, I still hit 90+ dB. So, it is no quieter... in the garage with the doors open. On the road, it is quieter in the seat, but I don't have dB numbers to prove it. Just my ears.

That's it for today. I had started reading about how to do automotive interiors (trimming) in preparation for doing the seats and cards on the MGB. I have parts on-order to complete the trunk and woofer box as well. Once those are complete "major operations" will have completed and I will be shifting focus onto the Zed... and then back to Hapy. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

MGB Exhaust Re-Do (Part 1)

Earlier this year, I described the slap-together exhaust solution I did to get the car through Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) testing. I had a head-to-tail system waiting to get installed since before US Independence Day that had been sitting in the garage walkway, just waiting to get stepped on. Today's post covers the rip-out of the old exhaust and some explanation of the new Bell exhaust.

Mild, Stainless and Coatings
I should probably start by pointing out that I purchased a stainless steel exhaust and then had it high-temp ceramic coated in flat black. I arrived at this combination after listening to various exhaust systems available for the stock MGB through YouTube videos. I knew exhaust paint is temporary, and that it eventually chips and scratches to reveal the metal underneath. I wanted a system that didn't exist anymore: Peco. a mild steel exhaust, but then ceramic coated. Ceramic coating can scratch off too, but it is much harder to do and the finish is much hardier than paint. Especially if the people applying it know what they're doing, and prepare the surface correctly.

Bell system with center "bomb"
Since the Bell system was built on the same jig as the Peco, but out of stainless steel, I held to my plan. I thought it would cost more, but since the original Peco mild-steel systems are disappearing from inventory, they are really quite expensive now. The image to the right, here, is similar to what I bought. The sole difference is the system I got has a larger center resonator (third pipe down).

I have read that stainless exhausts, while they have an initial higher register note mixed into the lower overall sound, that higher pitch goes away as soot lines the insides of the pipes. So, when I selected my powder-coater, I selected a company that coated the insides of all of the pipes as well as multiple coats on the outside so the exhaust would have that ripened sound from the moment of install. The inner coat also serves an additional purpose of providing a slickery smooth surface so soot will not build up over time. Last, this ceramic coating has some kind of thermal barrier as well so less heat will transfer through the pipe walls, sending it out the tailpipe instead. This should help keep the cabin cooler in the summer.

Old Manifold Off First
The existing (not original) system was welded in from the exhaust manifold through to where I had soup-canned on a muffler. Yes, I used a soup can (See MGB Muffled) to connect a recycled muffler to the rusty pipes to get through DEQ without attracting attention. It worked, but as one would assume, the integrity of a soup can is no match for the stresses of an exhaust system, and it split apart at some point shortly after that. With all the other action this Summer, I didn't really have time to do the full exhaust replacement, or I'd not have the convertible to play with while the weather was nice. Well, the weather turned to cold and rain early this year, so with an uncharacteristically empty autumn Saturday, I grabbed K2 and set to it. First things first: get the front end as high in the air as you can (safely) on jack stands and make sure it does not budge when you shake the car.

old system sans catalytic converter
K2 got the fun job of removing the exhaust manifold from the head while I worked on the other end, figuring we would meet in the middle. I had just replaced the manifold gasket, so I knew that process well enough to give directions from underneath. There are 2 bolts, one on each end, and the other have nuts holding onto 4 studs. All are 1/2" but there is not sufficient room for a socket for most of the nuts, so K2 worked them free with an old-skool combination spanner.

Just as a point of reflection, he was using the Sears Craftsman wrenches that I got for Christmas when I was his age. 30 years later, they have hardly aged. RIP, Sears; it is truly ironic that you, a company rooted in catalog mail-order, met its demise due to Amazon, an internet-order company. You were the one rare store where product quality remained relatively high while prices stayed reasonable. Sears never felt cheap (like Target does), and you offered practically anything a shopper might need other than food. The store closest to me is closing, bringing our 30+ year relationship to an end. Sadness.

Anyway... with the nuts and bolts off, K2 carefully slid the intake and exhaust manifolds off of the head, taking care not to disturb the gasket. The gasket still looked new and the copper sealant between the gasket and the head looked like I had just put it on. Honestly, since I'd only driven the car a couple of miles since I did it, I'm not sure the gasket and sealant ever got all the way up to temperature. So, yeah, that gasket is basically new.

Tail End Removal Next
Meanwhile, I was working on the other end. I noticed the split in the soup can, and figured that the tail-end would just come apart with a good yank once the tail mount was removed. I gave the muffler a hardy tug and it came right off. With a clatter I tossed the muffler into the driveway exclaiming "the first of the exhaust is off". Once K2 had the manifolds clear of the head, we figured out that the pipe needed to be cut to get free. I grabbed the angle grinder (and gloves and a face-shield. Safety First!) and cut the pipe just aft of the collector (and in front of the catalytic converter). With the mid-section now free, it rested on the garage floor. It soon joined the muffler in the sprinkling drizzle on the driveway. K2 was now able to pull the manifold free up through the open bonnet and set it on the rust pile in the driveway.

look at that non-transition
With the old system in pieces, we were able to take a better look at the custom exhaust manifold. The center pipe, which carries 50% of the load was no larger than the other 2 pipes, and had such a horrible flow to it that there was soot collected at the entry point. The soot was so thick, I could barely get my index finger in the hole without touching soot all the way around. The pipe had a 80* or sharper angle at the mate-point with the flange (check the picture to the right). Such bad flow. Just addressing that alone will improve the exhaust flow and behavior of half of the cylinders.

Tossing the rusty bits to the driveway, we chose to take a break. I quickly cut the catalytic converter free from the other debris, and slid it under the 280ZX for later use.

This post got super long once I wrote about the install. So, I'm stopping here and will continue in the next post. Thanks for following along-