1972 MGB GT – Part 3 – Fresh Air Vent, Cabin Heater & Pipes, Water Jets, a Wiring problem found and Engine Test Run.

Before starting work proper, on my project car, I wanted to test run the car for a bit to check the engine out after replacing most of the ignition system.

Being winter, in Scotland, I wanted to check out a few things before I did this…

First the water jets did not work; on the heavily salted roads and driving into Glasgow, I would want them working. In addition the fresh air vent that is hidden behind the centre console was jammed open and there was no heat from the cabin heater to demist the windscreen.

During the journey, bring the car back from Heathrow, it was obvious from the smell that a connection in the manual water jets had came loose. No water would exit the jets but there was a distinct smell of screen wash from the centre console indicating that the manual pump was working, just not how it should.

I figured this would be a quick fix so one Wednesday night I removed the central air vents, which came out easy (and notably where not connected to their air pipes) and found that it was a simple disconnected connection.

From here I could also see that not only were the central vents disconnected, but the main window demist vents were also disconnected, on both ends!

Looking into the air pipes I also found the issue the jammed open fresh air vent (which can be seen in the background of the above picture, closed)… it was jammed open due to one of the windscreen demist pipes, having falling behind the leaver preventing it from closing.

While I fixed the air pipe connections I noticed a loose wire sparking off the stereo casing. Judging for the condition of the female bullet connectors condition, it looked like it was fairly old and must have been shorting there for some time!

I removed the radio that had been fitted somepoint fairly recently… it has MP3 support, a USB connector and SD Card slot. I taped up the loose connection with some insulating tape and will have to investigate further where exactly it should be connected to when I dismantle that area during the rebuild process.

While re-inserting the radio, due to the mess of the wiring behind it I inadvertently disconnected clock and cigarette lighter.

Once reconnected I found I was getting heat to the demist vents, and now the fan switch did not have the water jets squirting onto it, the fan worked (well most of the time, switch seems faulty)… the heater would only give heat to the windscreen and would not fully switch to the centre console vents that continued to release cold air through the driver side, though this would be more than fine for a few test drives.  

So I had water jets and de-mist ability… this would allow me to take the car for a few test runs…

The next morning I used the car for the school run taking Caelan to nursery.

This went fine, with the car starting each time first turnover, so I decided it should be fine to take into a work meeting in Glasgow on Friday. This would be a round trip journey of close to 100 miles and provides the opportunity to the use the motorway there and to use some B roads for 3/4 of the return journey.

The journey into and out of Glasgow went without a hitch! So all going well so far.

1972 MGB GT – Part 2 – Lights, Ignition System and Misfire

As mentioned in my previous post, on the journey back from Heathrow, the car had a slight misfire which was more noticeable the next day.

The MGB GT has a twin carburetor, where one carburetor feeds the first two cylinders and the other the second two. As the air filters looked quite old and the misfire sounded like it was on a couple of cylinders I thought I would check them first.

As it turned out the rubber seals around the inside of the K&N filters had completely split, partially blocking the air filters.

Before going down to pick up the car I had ordered a service kit from the MG Owners Club, as the previous owner had told me it would be due one soon. The service kit came with two standard air filters. Though they are designed to go in the standard air filter housing I briefly replaced the K&N filters with the new standard filters to see if it would make any difference. I also gave the carburetors a quick visual check and oiled the accelerator connections.

Replacing the filters did not correct the problem so I proceeded to check the ignition system.

As it turned out there was several problems, the points were corroded, the distributor cap had worn points and corroded lead connector points, the ignition leads were corroded and damaged, and the spark plugs looked like they could do with being replaced.

As the service kit I bought came with a new condenser, points and spark plugs, I fitted these first and ordered new ignition leads, distributor cap, rotor arm, ignition coil and air filters.

In addition to the misfire, when bringing  the car back up to Scotland, the window wipers had stopped working around half way back. Checking the handbook I quickly found which fuse had blown. The same fuse is used for the heater blower, which appears to be the problem.

As there was no spare fuses in the fuse box I had to repeatedly stop on the way back to clear the screen. As the fuses used in the MGB’s are no-longer available at any service stations I also order some some from the MG Owners Club (http://www.mgocspares.co.uk/).

While picking up the car the previous owner also noticed that one of the side lights had stopped working during their journey to the Airport. While checking this I also gave the car a quick check over to see if anything else was in need of immediate replacement prior to starting on the bodywork.

While checking the lights I found that the housing for the driver side headlamp was severely corroded, and some of the wires (namely the side light ones), had came away from their terminal connectors.

I added the headlamp housing and rubber seal to the list of parts I needed just now.

The delivery of the spares was very prompt, allowing me to replace the parts over the next few weekends, taking a few weekends off to visit relatives over Christmas and getting the car running again last weekend.


Having replaced all but the ignition coil and distributor itself, the engine appears to be running smoothly now, though I have only ran it for 5 to 10 miles so far, I intend run it a bit more before starting to strip out more major parts for inspection, and possible replacement.

Some of the things that are on my list to tackle next include: –

  • One of the jack points needs re-welded (will also get a mechanic to check and see if any other welding is required)
  • Some areas need to be retreated with under-seal
  • Driver side sill, to the rear, needs repaired
  • The major job… the various areas of bodywork that need attention and a re-spray
  • General engine bay tidy up (some water trap areas need touching up and repairing)
  • Source problem with de-mist pipes and manual water jets
  • Locate where cold air is entering the foot-well (cool air vent was shut)
  • Look into the heater and all associated piping (air and water), see what needs replaced and what is OK
  • Fitting electric water jets (still fitted with the old manual jets)
  • Window seals (front quarter windows in particular) need attention
  • Oil change and replace oil filter
  • Check header gasket and possibly replace
  • Re-oil SU carburetors
  • Replace timing belt (as I have no idea when it was last done) 

              … no doubt more will be added to the list as the project unfolds …

For it’s age and the money I parted with, I am quite pleased with the condition of the car so far… particularly given the previous owner had told me that the owner, prior to them, had left it sitting outdoors unused for many years (to the point it was moss covered), before they rescued it. They gave it a little clean up and continued using it for a couple of years as a general run around until they had to sell to it to make way for a VW Camper they were purchasing.

1972 MGB GT – Part 1 – A project to keep my sanity!

I had originally intended on keeping a separate blog or web-site to log my progress on this project, but have decided to just expand this blog, rather than manage yet another site.

In late October 2008 my dad informed me that he would be giving me, my brothers and my sister a little of his share of his inheritance. My dad, his brothers and sisters had split some inheritance that Granny had left after she had passed. She passed away earlier in 2008 after suffering for several years from Cancer. True to her nature and not wanting people to fuss, she had kept her suffering a secret almost to the end, just getting on with life and only telling the family when she started to get too ill.

Though it was not a lot of money I did not want to waste it on bills or similar… So I decided it was about time to renew an old hobby, classic cars… and possibly introduce my kids to some dirt and oil.

For many years now my main hobby has been has been my job and vice versa (software development and computer programming)… hobby since 1990 job since 1997, with any spare time between the two being taken up by the kids, parenthood and the occasional computer game or xbox distraction.

In order to keep the old brain fresh for coding I figure it is time to get my fingernails dirty again.

Prior to spending most of my time in front of a computer screen I used to spend a reasonable amount under a bonnet or re-wiring my old bangers. Admittedly most of the time it was out of necessity, rather than desire… spending most of my money on books, computer hardware, OU courses and the kids meant that all of my earlier cars were bangers run on a shoe string. Saying that there was always a lot of satisfaction in doing the repairs and maintenance myself or with the help of my dad…

First car I bought was a 1973 Opel Ascona, purchased for the pricey sum of £200, this was before owning a classic became more fashionable and the prices went up quite a bit.

Though it required a fair upkeep during it’s life, it went on for a surprising number of years passing between myself and my father a couple of times… There was then the 1988 Ford Sierra Estate, actually this is the car I learned to drive in before getting the Opel when I passed my test, I swapped the Opel with my Dad for this and took on the repayments for a while. Then there was a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle (that needed completely rewired, having melted all the wiring and somehow just got a MOT… always checked the electrics on a car I bought after this one and never trusted a MOT), then a Fiat 126 (my dad bought this but I used it for a while) and a 1982 Ford Capri.


I then moved onto more modern cars working my way through a Rover Mini Metro, a Ford Focus, a Citroen Picasso, a Volvo 940 Turbo, a Ford Mondeo and currently a Chrysler Voyager.

And that’s just the cars I have been through (my dad’s list is much longer and more impressive, including a bubble car, Ford Cortina, various customs, a Ford Anglia and many more).

So… I had a few pennies from my Granny and decided to get an old classic in need of some repairs as a way to entertain myself on weekends in my garage. I had always wanted to repair and restore an old classic rather than just keep it running out of necessity.

Having researched various types of classic cars I decided that I would go for an MGB GT. There was several reasons for this…

Firstly I had always wanted one when I was younger but they had always been out-with my budget and once I could have afforded one, well one word… "kids", so not really practical. Though the money I was getting would not normally be enough for a MGB GT; with the economic climate looking bleaker and bleaker it seemed it would be a buyers market for second-hand cars, bringing prices much closer to my budget.

Other factors came into play as well, such as the great availability of reasonably priced replacement parts for the MGB GT, through the various owners clubs… it was after all one of the most popular British small sports cars built. There is also an abundance of books and other materials on them.

Having settled on the idea and to my surprise getting instant approval from my wife, I set about trying to find one. It soon became obvious that the best place to get a good deal would be on eBay, buying a car through eBay is something I never thought I would do, but prices elsewhere still seemed high.

I was ideally looking for something 1972 or earlier (something that would be road tax exempt here in the UK, so I don’t have to worry about the yearly cost as much). It had to be something needing some work, but was currently running and have a MOT so that I could get it home.

Having browsed and monitored auctions for several weeks, it was looking like I would only be able to get something post 1973 for the money I had available. So I bid on a couple of cars from 1973. Though I was the highest bidder on both they never reached their reserve and the sellers were expecting more than double what the auctions reached and more than I was willing to pay.

I was in no rush and wasn’t about to be convinced to part with more money than I had budgeted.

I continued monitoring and caught sight of a red 1972 MGB GT, with no reserve that was in need of some restoration and maintenance… over the course of the week I emailed the seller numerous detailed questions, he was extremely helpful answering all my questions and sending me additional photos of various problem areas that would need repaired.

Come the end of the auction I luckily won it by one pence. The wife got a giggle that I won the auction by only one pence!

I made arrangements with the owner to pick it up from Heathrow airport and booked my flights down for the following weekend. Flying down on the first flight on 29th Nov, I spent the day (coldest of the year, in car with no working heater) driving back up.

The car did have a slight misfire on the journey back, but I just kept the revs low and took my time and it got me back home with only a few minor hiccups.

The next morning the misfire was much more noticeable and it was apparent that would be my first task, but I will leave that for my next post.