Slow Car Fast
June 18, 2011 - We decided to leave the overriders in the rear as well.
The car gets a bit busy otherwise, and again those flares give some extra body to what's going on back there.
Hopefully I'll have the car assembled enough to take out tomorrow. I want to get some shots from a bit further away and walk all the way around the car!
entry 588 - tags: body, overriders
June 20, 2011 - Out of the garage!
I bolted the last few bits and pieces back on the car and took it for a short drive. Goodness gracious, it's a lively little thing. I've been working on the Targa Miata concurrently with the MG, and they should have pretty similar power/weight ratios. The Miata's engine hasn't been happy, but I hadn't realized just how down on power it is. The MG brought that to my attention fairly emphatically.
It's not perfect, of course. Some things are greatly improved since the last drive, such as the seal between the headers and the head. But there are a few other things I'd forgotten about, such as the over-assisted steering. Still, it feels great to get behind the wheel again, windows open and footwell vent blowing cool air on my feet. I could get used to this.
entry 589 - tags: drive
June 20, 2011 - I took the car out with the intention of taking some pictures.
You have been warned.
The car does look different. Wider. That's partly due to the lack of overriders, I think. But it's also because the flares flow into the fenders so nicely. And heck, it is wider than it once was.
entry 590 - tags: body
June 20, 2011 - I'm not sure what it is, but there's something completely British about this shot.
Not the background, of course. But the slightly frumpy yet muscular look of the car.
entry 591 - tags: body
June 20, 2011 - The rear looks particularly wide, partly because the badges aren't installed.
Janel wants to keep them and I didn't fill the holes, so they will go back on. I need to buff the paint first. That's also why the mirrors and the chrome side trim aren't installed.
entry 592 - tags: body, badges, emblems
June 20, 2011 - A closer look at how the flares fit with the body.
I could not be happier with them, especially the rears.
entry 593 - tags: body, flares
June 20, 2011 - And here's the view from the front.
The fronts are definitely a beefier design, and I was a bit worried they wouldn't suit the car. But they do, echoing the round shape of the hood and fenders.
Yes, I know I need to change out that fastener behind the bumper.
entry 594 - tags: body, flares
June 20, 2011 - My new desktop wallpaper.
Until the next time I shoot sunset photos, and I get out 15 minutes earlier so I can get the golden light on the flanks. This shot would have been absolutely killer...
entry 595 - tags: body
June 21, 2011 - It's been a gratifying day.
I posted pictures of the car to the various forums that have been interested in it over the years(!), and the response has been very good for the ego. Actually, even I'm finding the end result stunning. I've had it in my head for a couple of years now and here it is in the metal, and it works better than I expected. Some of it is the details - the way the clear front lights, deleted overriders and air dam beef up the front to match the flares, for example. Some of it is just the way the body flows in a way it never has before. I've spent a lot of time just running my hand over the car.
I also drove it to work. Of course. And as a result, when I got home, I changed out all four springs to a stiffer setup (375/300), bumped up the damping and realigned one of the exhaust pipes to keep it from leaning on the body. You know, the usual post-drive changes. I think what the car really needs is some roll stiffness, though. I'll put on a rear sway bar and beef up the front one later this week and see what that does.
entry 596 - tags: ego, body, suspension
June 23, 2011 - Wallpaper!
For those who want to put a big picture of my car on their computer for some reason (odd but true, it's been requested), here are a few for you.
1280x1024 (this photo)
1280x800 (this photo, widescreen)
1280x1024 (similar photo with more background)
1280x800 (similar photo with more background, widescreen)
1280x1024 (hood open)
1280x800 (hood open, widescreen)

If you want some wallpaper and have a particular photo or resolution in mind, let me know.
entry 597 - tags: wallpaper
June 23, 2011 - So much for all the basking in glory.
I was driving home last night and the MG started to stumble for a bit, then coasted to a halt. It acted like it was out of fuel. This has happened before. Luckily, I was following my coworker Brandon home and I was only a couple of blocks from his house. So he grabbed a couple of items and we tried to fix it.
First, I checked that there was power to the fuel pump. Yup. We threw in some fuel, just in case. No change. The pump sounded a bit off, though. Strained. We sat there and kicked around a number of ideas such as clogged inlet screens, overheated fuel lines and the like. Finally, we decided to grab his trailer and just drag the car back to my place where I could troubleshoot in a more controlled environment. When we went to start the car to put it on the trailer, there was no fuel pump noise at all. A quick feel under the car and I found a power wire that was no longer attached! It had come off the ring connector. Aha!
I used a bit of electrical tape from underhood to tape the wire to the terminal, just enough to get the car running and on to the trailer. That got me home.
The connector is one that came with the pump. I didn't have any ring terminals in the mini size used, so I'd just reused the connector and spliced the wire into my harness. So this time, I cut off the spliced wire and crimped in one of my own, complete with heat-shrink. That should solve the problem. The car fired up happily so that must have been it. It's expected that a car that's had this much work performed would have some trouble.
entry 598 - tags: fuel, debugging
June 23, 2011 - Before taking the car out again, I had a few other things on the list to fix besides "make it run again".
The brakes were making an odd grumble at very slow speeds once they were warm. Looking at the rear rotors, I saw a weird wear pattern. I'd just slapped on a set of used rotors I had kicking around, I suspect. Since Miata brake rotors are so inexpensive, I swapped in some new ones.
I also spent some time fine-tuning the exhaust fit to keep it from leaning on various parts of the body when it gets hot, checked the steering rack adjustment and did a few other small things. Then I took it out for a run!
entry 599 - tags: brakes
June 23, 2011 - Ah, nuts.
I spent a couple of hours running around some local roads shooting a bit of video and generally having fun with the car. The exhaust noises started coming back as the car got hot, but otherwise it behaved itself. Even with an ambient temperature around 95F or so, it didn't have any overheating problems. It did act a little cantankerous on a couple of hot starts, but cycling the key solved that. Quick car, let me tell you. The video will be along soon.

But unfortunately, the fuel problem returned. After running happily for all the video, I was heading home when the car started to stumble and then died in front of a gas station. I pushed the car into the lot where it was safe, and started poking around. My electrical connection seemed fine, but again the pump sounded a bit labored when it ran. I could sometimes get the car to fire up, but it would only fire a cylinder sporadically, just enough to keep it turning over but not much else. So I left the car and occupied myself elsewhere for half an hour.
When I got back, it fired up happily. I made it almost all the way home before it stumbled to a halt again. I parked it by the side of the road and again, a half hour later, it fired up.
So whatever is wrong is probably related to heat. I'm thinking it might be the pump itself. The pump I'm using is one that was sitting around my garage, and probably last saw action a decade ago. Foolish, maybe. But it's been working happily so far. The pump is fairly well protected from heat, although there is one of the exhaust pipes about a foot away. It doesn't feel hot to the touch, nor do any of the fuel lines.
It's possible that the input screen on the pump is clogged. Because the filter is also the regulator, the pump is pre-filter. It's quite likely there was a bit of debris in the tank despite my best efforts. I'm not sure that would manifest itself quite like this, but I'll investigate it none the less. I'll probably just swap in a new pump of the same type to be sure.
entry 600 - tags: fuel, debugging
June 23, 2011 - "You've got to love a level of acceleration that makes you just a little bit nauseous".
Bill Cardell, the owner of Flyin' Miata, riding in the MG.
entry 601 - tags: quotes
June 23, 2011 - Video time!
I spent some time playing with a couple of cameras today and put this together. I think it's fair to say that I'm not going to be getting a call from Martin Scorsese to take over for him, but hopefully it'll give a bit of the flavor of what this thing is like to drive. Yes, I wish there was more engine noise too!
If the video doesn't show below, you can watch it on YouTube in glorious high definition.

entry 602 - tags: video, driving
June 26, 2011 - I swapped out the fuel pump yesterday.
There were none of the hoped-for obvious problem signs - no big chunks of gas tank stuff clogging the inlet, no damaged wiring. Nuts. A drive today in hot (95F) weather unearthed no problems with the fuel system, but it drove fine almost every time before. So the jury's still out. I hate it when things are inconclusive like this.
We did find one definite problem, though. The car is very well ventilated, quite livable even in our hot climate. But when Janel drove it in open-toed shoes, she discovered that increased speed pushes some air through the heater core and directly on to her feet. Now, the heater core is still running coolant through it as I wasn't sure when I hooked things up if the LS engine could do without that particular circuit. Apparently it can, and so I am under orders to fix that particular problem quickly before her feet melt. I'll have to see if I can find the old heater valve again.
Other than the hot toes, she did bond with the car. Especially when she was trying to merge and wasn't sure if she had enough room. I told her to punch it, she'd have enough room. Yes indeed she did. She laughed and started looking for opportunities to open the throttle.
entry 603 - tags: debugging, heater, fuel
June 27, 2011 - So much for that nice pretty paint.
I decided it was time to start sanding. I hit the worst runs with wet 500 grit, then moved to 1000 to flatten the rest of the car. It's going nice and quickly, although it's easy to see that I've had to remove a lot of the trim I installed just a week or so ago. Sigh. Still, it should look amazing when I'm done. And once this is all smoothed out, I'll be able to install the side trim and mirrors and even some of the new interior panels. Oooo!
entry 604 - tags: body, paint
June 28, 2011 - The other LS1-powered MGB.
There are a few LS-powered MGs under construction, but there's only one other one I know of that's actually self-propelled. Until today, I'd only ever seen it when it was listed on eBay a couple of times. But I stumbled across a page with some more details and photos of the car yesterday.
It is a motor swap, nothing more. The rear suspension? Stock. Front suspension? Basically stock with some different springs. Brakes? Drums in the rear. Eeek. I'm not sure I'd want to drive that too hard. There are a few other visible touches that concern me a bit, such as the fact that bungee cords are used to hold the intake box together. That's not indicative of a close attention to detail. There are no indications of what the transmission is.
There are some nice touches though. The car uses an MGC hood, which has more room up front. That's how there's space for the intake. The interior is beautifully finished. It's basically a slightly modified MGC from the outside.
I'll bet it's a hit at cruise events, but I wouldn't be willing to take it around the track.
entry 605 - tags: other cars
June 28, 2011 - More sanding!
I feel like I'll have a masters degree in sanding MGs when this is done. I've gone over the whole car with 500 grit to knock down the worst runs - there weren't as many as I thought - and followed it up with 1000 and 1200. I'm now doing a final run over with 2000 grit. Hard to believe, but there's a visible difference between each one. The car's looking really smooth now.
Next step after the 2000 grit is the buffing. That's where it'll really pop and I'll have the ability to really make mistakes. Foreshadowing? I hope not.
entry 606 - tags: paint
June 29, 2011 - Here's the result of all that sanding.
The car is super-smooth and satin black. I tried a bit of buffing on the roof and decided that panel simply wasn't smooth enough - there was still a bit of a pebbled surface where I'd hit the top of the orange peel but not flattened it. So I wetted everything down and kept going.
Polishing this weekend. That should be a fairly quick and very gratifying job.
entry 607 - tags: polish, paint