Slow Car Fast
July 2, 2011 - Buffing time!
Try to guess which side is the "before" side. I started off with a fairly mild setup, a gentle foam pad and a less aggressive compound. That's the result on the roof there. Not bad, but my initial sanding was with some pretty coarse paper. I followed it up with lighter paper, but either I don't have enough patience (most likely) or the setup simply wasn't aggressive enough.
So, after some experimentation, I ended up with my most aggressive combination of abrasion: some old 3M Product III rubbing compound and a wool boot on the rotary buffer, set on 3.5 out of 6. That did the job.
I did all my experimentation on the hood because I figured that if I really screwed it up, it would be the easiest to repaint. No worries there, I found I didn't burn anything up. One big help was the Meguiars training video, which they've uploaded to YouTube. Sure, there's a lot of advertising for Meguiars in there, but it shows you how to move a buffer properly and a lot of good techniques.
entry 608 - tags: buffing, paint
July 2, 2011 - Here's that flare that had the big runs in it.
It's not perfect, but it's a whole lot better. I won't have to try to avoid this angle when taking pictures of the car anymore! You can see that my initial sanding marks are still there, even after using 2000 grit and a couple of passes with various polishing compounds. By the way, I followed up that 3M rubbing compound with some Meguiars polishing compound and then a swirl remover. The sanding marks actually kinda make it look like a well-cared-for but old enamel paint job. Instant patina!
I know, I know. But I'm going to call this good for now so I can get the car up and running again. The goal was to get rid of the worst of the runs so I can put the badges and side trim on. I can do some more finishing work later on if I feel the need. Right now, of course, I'm looking at a spotless black car under fluorescent lights.
I did learn some neat techniques for getting rid of runs without wet-sanding the entire car. Although the car did need it due to orange peel. I'll get pictures of them later, as I know I'll probably come across at least one more that will need a touch-up.
entry 609 - tags: buffing, paint
July 3, 2011 - I left one small panel on the car alone so I would have a good before/after comparison.
That's it at the base of the windshield. It made a good test for the quality of my buffing too! The untouched panel is visibly rougher but has about the same shine as the fender does, so it's worked out pretty well.
entry 610 - tags: Buffing, paint
July 3, 2011 - It's not all good news, though.
Whilst trying to get rid of the worst of the drips, I managed to sand through the paint. No, not with the rotary buffer that everyone warned me about, but with 2000 grit sand paper. I wasnt trying to sand right on the lip but I must have had the angle just a bit off. Argh.
I left it alone while I continued with the rest of the car. I'll touch it up eventually, but I figured I should make sure there aren't any other spots that will need work first.
Once everything is polished, it's just a small white spot on the lip. Not too obvious in real life.
entry 611 - tags: buffing, paint
July 3, 2011 - Buffing is a messy job.
I probably should have moved the other car out of the garage! If the color looks familiar, that's because it's the same one I used on the MG.
entry 612 - tags: buffing, mess
July 3, 2011 - The hot foot problem has been solved.
This heater valve should let the air passing through the heater core to remain cool. The unusual thing about it is that it works backwards to most valves, which matches the way the control cable from the MG works. Push to open, pull to close if I remember correctly. I haven't run the cable to it yet - I disconnected the cable from the knob under the dash when I wasn't using it earlier - but that's not liable to be a concern until later in the year.
With forecast temperatures above 101F today, I'm glad I have this one fixed.
entry 613 - tags: heat
July 3, 2011 - More reassembly.
With the paint finished (at least, finished enough for now), it's finally time to put on the side trim. I've been looking forward to this. First, installation of the fasteners. Weird little dome washers that the trim snaps over. The car looks kinda cool with them all in place, like it's got rivets down the side.
entry 614 - tags: trim
July 3, 2011 - Of course, the trim wouldn't fit with the new flares.
So I had to trim it. The trim is actually stainless steel, not chrome-plated plastic or some other shortcut. Nice work MG. So it cuts and trims pretty nicely.
Other than one piece (the one you can see here), all the trim is new. It's only $40 from Moss and makes a big difference in how the car looks. The old trim had picked up a number of little dings and scuffs over the years, and it just made the car looks a little bit dingy. Not anymore.
entry 615 - tags: trim
July 3, 2011 - Along with new trim, I replaced a few gaskets such as these for the headlights.
They all sealed well enough, but there's both primer and black paint on the old one from previous paint jobs. Again, dingy. A couple of new parts make a big difference.
How cool is it that I can still buy these parts for a car that was made nearly four decades ago?
entry 616 - tags: trim
July 3, 2011 - The logical next step after finishing the side trim would be to take the car out into the brilliant sun and marvel over how good it looks as the finally product.
But I had to reinstall the door panels, and what better time to install the new ones? The main door card went on easily enough with just a bit of fiddling around. The pad at the top of the door, on the other hand, needed to have the new vinyl wrapped around it. Not a hugely challenging task, but one that takes time to do it right. So I spent the rest of the day upholstering four chunks like the one in the picture. But man, do they look good now.
entry 617 - tags: interior
July 3, 2011 - Ta-daaah!
A complete door. The panel design isn't identical to the original (assuming the previous cards were the original ones, which may not be the case) but it looks good. So I may not win at Pebble Beach. I'll cope. It looks so much better than before, though. The only part visible that was on the car when we got it is the door latch, and Janel's asked me if I can make it look better!
I still have to do the side panels for the rear seats. The upper pads are done, but there's still a bit of work to do behind the panels. Tomorrow, the car will emerge.
entry 618 - tags: interior
July 4, 2011 - Before and after.
Yes, I think the interior should look better.
entry 619 - tags: interior
July 4, 2011 - Removing the side panels in the back revealed this secret smuggling compartment.
That's the outer skin you can see, along with the backside of the welds for the rear flares. A previous owner had cut out part of the inner panel in order to fit a speaker as well.
Seems to me this is a good spot for exterior noise to get in. You can see the large amounts of factory sound deadening.
entry 620 - tags: interior
July 4, 2011 - I'm considering filling that opening with something to absorb noise.
But in the meantime, the back of the new panel was beefed up with the same Cool-It that was used elsewhere in the car.
The final result looks so much better. Janel came into the garage, sat in the car for a while and proclaimed it to be a real car. That's a big step!
entry 621 - tags: interior
July 4, 2011 - Preventative maintenance.
The fitting on the right is a push-on fitting that allows me to connect a braided fuel line to the factory fuel rail. The plastic connector is the same sort of thing used by the millions on factory cars.
But Russell, the manufacturer of this part, seems to have got something wrong in their implementation. I had one of these fittings pop off on the Targa Miata. Three times. I've heard from another FM customer who had a similar problem, and it turns out it's actually pretty well known. Since the result of a pop off is a big fat line full of high pressure fuel being pumped directly on top of a hot engine, it's a poor scenario. Especially when you're on the track, like I was with the race car.
The solution is the fitting on the left. It's a brand new design from Russell and it locks into place with a threaded aluminum insert instead of a couple of plastic teeth. I found out about it through the LS1Tech forums and managed to get some from the first production batch. The part on the MG has never given me trouble, but now it can't. I'll give the old one to the cats to play with.
entry 622 - tags: fuel, safety
July 5, 2011 - More useless equipment.
Well, hopefully useless. If all goes according to plan, these will never do us any good. But given the performance of the car, it's better safe than sorry.
For those who don't recognize them, they're HANS devices for Janel and I. If the worst happens, they'll help keep our heads attached to our necks. Not cheap insurance, but better than the alternative.
entry 623 - tags: safety
July 5, 2011 - A new intercom for the Targa car.
This one, a Peltor FMT120, has a few features the old FMT100 didn't. Aux in (for a phone), separate volume controls, etc. Most importantly, it has an audio out. When combined with the new video camera that arrived last week, this means we'll be able to have Janel's instructions as audio for the in-car footage instead of just engine noise. That should make it a lot more interesting to watch.
The old intercom will go into Nancy, the sister car on the team.
Progress on the car should resume shortly. Lots of fine-tuning to do.
entry 624 - tags: intercom, video
July 6, 2011 - Whoops.
For those who are confused by the last two updates, they were attached to the wrong car! The rally intercom and HANS safety devices are for the Targa Miata race car, not the MG. If anyone was expecting me to start rallying the MG, well, no. The rally car does have the same power/weight ratio, though...
entry 625 - tags: oops
July 6, 2011 - After work today, I decided I just had to take the MG for a run.
I hadn't seen it outside the garage since all the sanding and the complete assembly. I gave up on trying to fabricate excuses and just took off.
It certainly is a lively little thing.
Anyhow, here's Nigel. Did I ever mention the car's been named Nigel Brimstone? Well, he has. So here's Nigel all assembled. Mirrors, side trim, badges. There are no elements that look unfinished or require apology. And he looks good! Sure, the paint isn't perfect. But in the real world with a bit of dust, out of the merciless fluorescent lights, he looks just fine. Time to start working on the driving experience a bit more.
entry 626 - tags: paint, body
July 9, 2011 - Cruise night!
As a general rule, I don't go in for cruise nights. I prefer my gasoline burned at wide open throttle on a racetrack, not burbling up and down a busy street or squandered in burnouts. I also find that only a particular type of car shows up, and there are only so many 1960's American cars patterned after the same template I can take at one time. But there was an event last night just down the street from my house and so Janel and I took the excuse to get the MG out for some exercise.
I'm glad I did. There was a great mix of cars, from the usual cruise night fodder to a nice survivor 356 coupe. No other MGs, and nobody else with a set of worn R-compound tires other than my friend Brandon's bike-engined Locost and the MG. The reaction to the MG was pretty fun to watch. I had it parked with the hood up and there were a lot of double takes. A lot. After the masses saddled up to idle up and down the main drag, we took off and went to dinner with Brandon and his girlfriend Leigh. The MG behaved like a normal car with working windshield wipers, headlights, turn indicators and even a full-time fuel pump! Janel drove it for part of the night and displayed a tendency to use significantly large amounts of throttle without any provocation. She approves of the car's sprightliness.
Unfortunately, the paint does not look good at all when it's shined up and out in the sun. I got caught in some rain on the way home from work yesterday and it seems to have taken a lot of the shine off the final buffing, really showing up the wet-sanding marks. Even the flattened paint where I managed to get rid of all the sand marks with 2000 grit had no sheen. I tried to give it a quick polish but to no avail. So it's back to the buffer soon. Still, the car is a driver and that makes it a lot more fun than when it was stuck in the garage for paint!
entry 627 - tags: paint