The 1972 MGB roadster

By the year 2001, my rally brother Steve and I had participated in three New England 1000 rally events: 1998, 1999, and 2000. We had every intention of making it “four in a row”, except, we had a small problem. After each running, we had excitedly exclaimed to our girlfriends how thrilling it had been to drive the bucolic highways and byways of New England in a classic convertible with like-minded enthusiasts. After all these years of listening to our exploits while they sat at home, they wanted in.

Okay.

For Steve, that meant gearing up the Tiger for yet another run, and given its exemplary performance so far, there seemed to be nothing that would prevent the Tiger from achieving a Grand Slam.

For me, that meant obtaining a rally-eligible car.

To car collectors, this is what is known as a “good problem to have”. Many a hobbyist will tell you that the thrill is in the hunt. While I generally agree, my hunt was complicated by the facts that a) I had just gotten engaged, and there was a wedding to plan; and b) we had just purchased a house, and were planning to move into it in March.

Okay.

What do we do when faced with such challenges? Of course: we confine our search for a rally car to the local area! So it was with a great amount of fortuitousness that I happened to see an online listing for a 1972 MGB roadster, in western Hunterdon County (only 30 minutes away) for sale for $5,000. I drove out to see the car; it had some issues; I conveniently ignored them. I offered the owner payment with a personal check; he accepted. I drove the B home. Things were looking up!

To prepare the car for the upcoming rally, I installed a set of Vredestein tires (I must like that brand, as the Alfa has Vredesteins on it), and while the tires were off, resprayed the painted wheels with wire-wheel paint from Moss Motors. An oil change, a quick tune-up, and we were rally-ready.

This MGB was my first British car. Like all Bs before and after, it had a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, in my case, producing about 95 horsepower. Carburetion was via two SUs, complete with manual choke. Transmission was a 4-speed manual, without the desirable overdrive. The color was a true ‘70s pumpkin orange, complemented by a beige and black interior. (I was later informed that the seats were out of a later-model MGB.) Braking was discs in front, drums in rear, and steering was rack & pinion. As a 1972 model, its chrome bumpers were much better-looking than the big rubber bumpers soon to come. It was an easy car to drive, and a very easy car to work on.

The complete story of our participation in the 2001 New England 1000 rally will be covered in the next blog post. Suffice to say that after three years of joyously sharing seat time in that Sunbeam Tiger, this MG proved its mettle as a formidable (albeit slower) competitor.

Spring of 2001: the MGB on the front lawn of our new home
Spring of 2001: the MGB on the front lawn of our new home; note triple wipers

 

For such a compact car (153" long), interior was roomy
For such a compact car (153″ long), interior was roomy

 

 

Interior shot shows wheel, seats, and 3rd version of B dash
Interior shot shows wheel, seats, and 3rd version of B dash

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Heater Core Replacement in the ’93 Mazda Miata: Part 2

Last we left off, your intrepid garage hack was somewhere in the process of replacing the engine compartment coolant hoses, as part of a heater core replacement on his 1993 Mazda Miata. In this installment, we will provide an update on the progress of said hoses.

You may be saying to yourself, “the blog post is entitled ‘heater core replacement’, but there are nary few words so far about the actual core”. This would be an accurate observation, as in fact, the heater core has been removed from the vehicle, but I am not quite ready to begin the installation of the new part. Instead, I’m documenting the work that’s been done most recently (the hoses), and will soon be writing more about the core. At least I certainly hope I will be, as it’s almost June and I haven’t driven this car since last fall.

Intermediate pipe, painted with high-temp paint, was cured with heat gun
Intermediate pipe, painted with high-temp paint, was cured with heat gun

Back to the hoses. In Part 1, I gave mention to a “heater hose kit” from Moss Motors. The kit comprises of 7 hoses: 3 larger-diameter pieces, and 4 smaller-diameter ones. The larger hoses are your typical radiator-to-engine coolant hoses, excepting the fact that Mazda has a 3-part lower setup, with a rubber hose running to a metal intermediate pipe, followed by another rubber hose. But it was the 4 small ones which threw me the curve ball, as I had no idea that the car had these additional coolant hoses. As Moss did not provide a diagram, I also had no idea where in the engine compartment they were.

The two hoses, running parallel between intake and valve cover, are coolant hoses
The two hoses, running parallel between intake and valve cover, are coolant hoses

Poking around the area of the thermostat housing, I found two; the other two were over at the intake manifold. The function of these hoses seems to be to provide a “warm engine temperature” signal to the idle control and the radiator fan control. I didn’t research it further as I wanted to devote the time to getting the spring-loaded hose clamps off.

Note clamps under and to the right of thermostat housing
Note clamps under and to the right of thermostat housing

These clamps were not only difficult to reach; the clamps ears in some cases were rotated away from what might be the most accessible positions. It is possible that these were built up as subassemblies before the engine was dropped into the car. In any event, they had not been touched since the car was built, and I needed to get them off. Using various shaped pliers, including needle-nose, curved nose, and slip-joint, most of them eventually came loose. One clamp in particular, under the thermostat housing, was twisted back and forth until it broke off (I was very mad at it). Like many other underhood jobs, components which were in the way were removed for better access.

Old and new hoses side-by-side. Old ones were hard but not leaking (yet)
Old and new hoses side-by-side. Old ones were hard but not leaking (yet)

Besides the clamp which was twisted to death, there were two other casualties: the A/C-power steering belt was removed with a hacksaw, because I intend to replace it anyway; and the fan temperature sensor switch in the top of the thermostat housing fell victim to an errant wrench. New parts have been ordered and are on their way.

Switch is NOT designed to be removed in this fashion
Switch is NOT designed to be removed in several pieces

As of today, the upper radiator hose, lower rear hose, and all four smaller hoses have been replaced. On the smaller hoses, several spring clamps were replaced with screw clamps for easier installation. With this part of the job basically done, we’re soon moving back to the heater core.

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Heater Core Replacement in the ’93 Mazda Miata: Part 1

The '93 Miata as it looked in August of 2014
The ’93 Miata at the 2014 Lime Rock Vintage Fall Festival

August of 2016, three months from the time of this writing, will mark 20 years that I’ve owned my black Mazda Miata. Aside from its incredible driving characteristics, it has been a typical Japanese-car ownership experience, which is to say, the vehicle has needed almost no repairs during the 65,000 miles I’ve put on it.

Of course any car needs maintenance and consumables, so tires, brakes and batteries have been changed out. The engine oil is replaced once or twice a year regardless of mileage. The typical tune-up items such as plugs, wires, and filters are changed regularly. Light bulbs? One headlight bulb went out a few years ago. The convertible top was replaced around 2002.

The upholstery, stereo, exhaust, clutch, shocks, springs, and U-joints are all the pieces which the factory installed in 1993. The R-12 A/C still blows cold, but did need one top-up (I still have 12 oz. cans of Freon).  The one repair which almost put the car off the road was a leaky clutch slave cylinder. It’s a common Miata failure, and the new one took about 30 minutes to install.

However: last summer, I began to notice a slight film at the base of the inside of the windshield. At first, I chalked it up to a typical dirty window. Then I noticed that using the heater made the film cover a greater area of the glass. I swiped a finger through it, and it had an oily feel. Uh-oh, said I; could this be the dreaded heater core? Each time I thoroughly cleaned the inside of the windshield, the film came back. Even with the heat completely off, it appeared. At 98,000 miles and 23 years, I knew it was time.

Heater core replacement on ANY car is not easy. My 1968 Mustang (with factory air) got its core replaced by me, and it involved disassembling most of the dash and center console. During my brief time professionally wrenching on Volvos, I did my share of heater cores on 240s. (The Volvo 240 heater core is infamous: Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, had a running joke on their show, in which they said that Volvo would assemble a 240 by taking a heater core, putting it on the assembly line, and building up the rest of the car around it.)

The entire air filter box must be removed to gain access to the lower rear hose (at right)
The entire air filter box must be removed to gain access to the lower rear hose (at right)

Besides a new core, it seemed to be a good idea to also replace all the original coolant hoses. The hoses are available as a kit from Moss Motors, so with said kit in hand, I drained the system and began with the engine compartment hoses. They were all hard as rocks, and most needed to be cut off their metal pipes.

From L to R: lower radiator hose, intermediate pipe, lower rear hose
From L to R: lower radiator hose, intermediate pipe, lower rear hose

The Miata lower radiator hose does not connect to the front of the engine. Rather, it passes through a metal intermediate pipe, then another rubber hose, connecting to the engine at the rear. This pipe looked terrible, so I removed it to give it a closer look. The corrosion on it was superficial, but in the interest of longevity, it is getting cleaned and painted.

Happened to have this in the garage cabinet; my experience with Hirsch products has been excellent
Had this from a previous project; my experience with Hirsch products has been excellent

The main hoses are off; there are 5 smaller hoses which also need replacing, and these clamps look like some knuckles will bleed. More to follow.

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.