Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MGB - steering rack

The last collection of posts have been about this project MGB I picked up last Summer/Fall. Today's post covers the efforts of removing, cleaning, and repairing the steering.

Context
The steering on these little British cars is only a hair more complicated than the old VW bus. The bus uses a system called "work and peg", which is definitely not used in modern cars. Without opening up the steering box, consider that there is magic inside this box with two arms coming out it. The arm coming out the top connects to your steering wheel and the arm coming out the back connects to control arms that terminate at each of the front wheels. Within the magic box live the worm and peg. The "peg"  rides on the "worm" that is a threaded bar that looks like an auger. As the steering moves from lock to lock, the worm moves the peg from side to side, causing the front wheels to turn. Simple design.

3-armed monster
The MGB has a rack and pinion style. Rack and pinion has a gear (pinion) at the end of the steering column that rides on a "rack". The rack is simply a toothed bar to which the control arms are attached. In the case of the MG, the control arms and the rack are all one piece. Power steering includes more bits to boost the power of the pinion to move the rack. The MGB doesn't have the power assist, but its a tiny car with little weight, so there isn't much need. One other interesting bit about the MGB steering is that over half of the steering column is part of the steering rack so it has 3 long legs/arms to manage on extract and install.

Getting It Out
just removed. note torn d-side boot
Removing the steering rack from the MGB is actually pretty easy. For me, someone who takes forever to do even the most simple of jobs, that's a big statement. At the ends of the control arms are tapered "ends" that fit into the steering knuckles (sometimes called "swivels"). Since I had already decided to replace the rod ends, I separated the ends from the knuckles with a couple of smacks with a hammer. There are gear remover tools that are more graceful, but if you're replacing the ends and the nuts (always replace the nuts) anyway, a hammer works great.

p-side arm measured
With the ends separated from the knuckles, move up to the steering column part up near the firewall. Mark the way the two ends come together so your steering wheel will align properly on your first re-install effort. I shot the joint with a pop of spraypaint, but that was only because I couldn't find something like a paint pen. You can just see the marks in the picture on the right, here. Once marked, loosen the connection so it doesn't hang up on you later.

In order to easily get to the rack bolts, you may need to remove the little section of cowling between the radiator and the front beam. It is made of glueboard and held on with a couple of nuts. There are metal replacements for the cowling available, if your original is trashed. Once you have access to the rack, it is held on with 4 long-ish bolts. With those bolts removed, the rack can be removed by pulling it forward and down. If it isn't budging, check that the steering column is loosened enough.

Cleaning
p-side arm measurement
My rack was leaking, and was identified as a possible replace item by the shop. K2 and I saw that the bellows on one side were definitely torn, so I ordered a replacement set as well as replacement arm ends. We (step-son K2 helped a bunch here) started with simply cleaning everything up first. K2 used "Simple Green" and a lot of elbow grease to get the arms and main cylinder clean.  You can't put new bellows on while the arm ends are still attached, so when it was clean, I marked the control arm end positions with a shot of spraypaint (use a paint pen if you have one). Once marked, I removed the arm ends, and then the bellows. At this point, K2 doubled down on cleaning. He turned the steering from post to post, cleaning up any gunk that he found in the teeth. We removed the cover plate and looked for broken teeth on the pinion as well.

Repairing
Junk. Don't Buy These
The pinion had no broken teeth and the arms were in great shape. We decided not to replace the steering rack, and just re-seal the cover, refill with oil and replace the bellows. I used a very light application of form-a-gasket to help seal the cover. If you use too much, it gets into the gears, and that detail cleaning needs to be redone (guess how I know that). Before the cover plate is sealed on, the bellows need to be put on. Put a little bit of gear oil on the inside edge of the small end before you start. This allows the small end to slide over the end of the arm without tearing. Attach the wide end to the main cylinder and a-fix with the metal band. Before attaching the small ends, check where they should go so that they don't stretch nor bind when the rack is turned lock to lock. If you have marked the old location, its easy. I didn't but I found that once I started zeroing in on a spot, it actually was the same original position (there were tiny scratches on the arms). Tighten the small ends down with the smaller metal bands. Now, fill the system with gear oil: 90 weight (like the VW bus transaxle). "Fill" is about 8oz.

Ends
OEM. Buy These
Once everything above is done, all that's left are the ends. There are two kinds available out there, and I bought both to see the difference. These cars came with sealed ends that allowed no maintenance. So, if you thought your end needed grease, you can't grease it; you need to buy replacements. These replacements are made in England, though, so you're getting a good OEM part when you go this route. There are also replacements available which have a grease fitting. These are Chinese junk. The concept is great, the execution is appalling. The pair that arrived were rusty and the main rubber seal was falling off. Not only would it not hold grease, the rubber "seal" wouldn't stay on at all. I was only able to find them at the Roadster Factory, but don't shop there. When I alerted them to this poorly built part, and returned it according to their rules, I received no communication nor any money back. Vendor: if you sell garbage and then don't honor your own policy, you're a sham to me and will be called out accordingly: do not shop from The Roadster Factory unless you're willing to accept crap parts with no means of return.

Ends On
The OEM part, as expected, looked perfect and fit as you would expect. I threaded it on to the marks and tightened it down.

I am finishing up some other tasks before re-installing the rack, so I will post again when I have that completed. Thanks, as always, for following along.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MGB - an Expert Opinion

Before I started tearing into the master cylinders, it occurred to me that I should probably get some more expert advice on this MG. I figured I had a pretty decent little car, but hearing that from someone who actually knows what s/he is talking about goes a long way.

The Web
The first, obvious and free place to go looking for expert advice is the internet. Unfortunately, the advice isn't always expert, and sometimes it is simply wrong. These days there are multiple enthusiast sites for pretty much any car, so that just makes things worse. I know the VW scene, for example, has lots of forums, some are more welcoming. On the other end of the continuum, some are downright hostile to new folks.... and each other. In the VW world, it seems like the more level-headed the general discourse, the more accurate the advice. I think this stems from the originator John Muir, and his attitude that is spilled all over the pages of his Idiot books.

For the MG, I go to the MG experience (www.mgexp.com). Unlike the VW world, there aren't as many active board or forum to choose from. The MG Experience is lively with a wide array of members spanning from the ultra-purists to the full-on experimental. Above all, there are little judgments about what you want your car to be, and things get testy usually when someone is suggesting an alteration that is unsafe. I haven't witnessed religious battles over minutia either.
The MG Experience header

With all that context, there were still limits for how much a forum can advise about the condition of your car. At some point, you need someone to look at things and point out the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Local Guy
confused mechanic
If you have a local mechanic who you trust with your car(s), s/he may be perfect for looking at a new project for you. Over the years, I've had my share of mechanical screwings, so there are few that I genuinely trust. Those who I do trust don't own garages, and are kinda gypsy in their approach. The best are usually highly skilled with one kind of car, or a particular area, like my friend Justin the TDI engine man. You can roll the dice with the local Firestone (not picking on Firestone, they all do this), and see what they say. If you can filter out all the up-selling and hear what they are really saying, you might hear about some of the problems. You definitely won't hear about all of them. They have blinders on, focused on the things they do well. Firestone, for example, will do a great job of highlighting issues with your suspension, steering and alignment, but identifying rust or bog under paint? Nah. Engine issues? Probably not. It could still be a useful trip to a local shop if you already know what they can and can't see... and you already know the good the bad and the ugly about the stuff they can't see.

Car Manufacturer Expert
British Auto Works logo
Ultimately, I just jumped to the end and found a local British car specialist shop: British Auto Works in North Plains, OR (website link). I have seen air-cooled VW specialist shops all over the West Coast, and I found the similarities and differences between the VW and British shops simply fascinating. Every garage has some kind of messy going on. Whether its a pile of boxes and parts heaped around or a desperate need for a broom, every specialist garage I've walked into had similar messy. I contrast this with the Firestone's of the world which look really tidy most of the time, even in the shop area. Not sure why that phenomenon happens. By contrast, and maybe this is unique to British Auto Works, the British shop had more space for both working on cars as well as in their lobby. I've seen VW shops where you could barely walk between different vehicles getting worked on simultaneously. The British shop had room for sparks to fly between them.

The Review
The guys at British Auto Works were great. I was introduced to one of their mechanics by the owner when I arrived for my appointment. That mechanic handled my car from that point through to the ring-out at the end. He crawled all over it, test drove it, had it on the lift, used various measuring devices, etc. When he was finished examining it, we did a walk-around before putting it on the lift again so he could show me what he found. The list of bad news wasn't long, which was great to hear.

Future posts will be addressing what we listed:
Steering Rack is leaking. One gaiter is torn, causing the leak. Rack could be damaged.
Front suspension is original and will need refreshing. Lower arm bushings look pretty bad.
Rear passenger wheel makes noise on turns. Wheel bearing should be examined.
Coolant pump is toast. It will fail, and fail soon. Replace before driving much more.
very little rust, but driver floor looks iffy.
Brakes are spongey, check the master cylinder (see MGB Master Cylinder(s) Started)
Possible exhaust leak causing a pop-pop-pop noise on deceleration
The interior is pretty rough, but serviceable.... and there's no convertible top

For good news, he really liked the way it drove. Lots of pep from the side-draft weber carb, solid shifting transmission and no weird noises from the drive train. The car sits well, doesn't make suspension noise, really solid. Very little rust, especially the frame.

That's it for today. Once its all written down, that list looks pretty tall, but better to know the full list from a proper shop rather than get a partial list, possibly with wrong items, from somewhere else. Thanks, as always, for following along,

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MGB master cylinder(s) - started

Continuing on the MGB project, today is all about the removal of the master cylinders. This is the logical continuation of the prior post about MGB brakes where I did all four corners and the rubber lines but I was unable to successfully bleed the rear brakes.

How Works MGB Brakes
pic swiped from MGB forum
I briefly touched on this in the MGB brakes job posting (See: MGB Brake Job). The brake hydraulic system is very simple. From the pedal under your foot, a level presses against the vacuum-assist brake booster which activates the brake master cylinder. That's typical of any modern car. The MGB master cylinder is split into 2 halves, the front and the rear, with a rod connecting them so that when you press on the pedal and the brake booster activates the master cylinder, fluid is pressed out of two chambers. The chambers correspond to either the front or rear. This is a protection in case there is a failure in your brake system, keeping the other system intact so you can stop. Safety Fast!

Bleed Fail
This brings us to our brake problem, I did the four corners, and bled the front system. The rear system, though, would not bleed. First, the air bubbles would not stop and finally, the fluid stopped passing through. I thought I had fouled the rubber line install so I removed it and still couldn't get fluid. Rules out rubber line. Then I put it all back together again, and went to the master cylinder end. I disconnected the one hard line that ran to the back of the car and it could hold vacuum. So, the hard line is good. The master cylinder must have failed.

Master Cylinder
Again, the internet has opinions when it comes to brakes. Okay, pretty much that's true when it comes to anything, but in this case, there's a strong urging from the MGB community to replace the clutch master cylinder when you replace the brake master cylinder. That's because they stack-up against one another and removing just the master cylinder for the brake requires so much disassembly, it's one of those jobs you only really want to do once. There is even a reported odd circumstance where both master cylinders fail around the same time, so even if you avoid doing both, you find yourself replacing the other one within 6 months. I mentioned the rust/patina condition of this little car in my part 2 posting (See: Little British Car (Part 2)) about buying it. The patina on the brake booster was pretty bad, and the pedal box looked pretty bad. There were leaves, and other filth all up in there too. So, I decided that I'd pull all of it out, clean it up and paint what I could. That may have been just one sentence, but many weeks of effort.

Pedal Box
swiped from britishv8.org
The brake and clutch pedals attach to the car in a combined steel box that is attached to the inside of the engine compartment. There is a rectangular hole through which the pedals pass into the driver foot-well. Once the hydraulics are disconnected, the pedals are removed as a unit, still attached to the box. Once removed from the car, I disassembled the pedals, cleaned, sanded, wiped down, etched, primed, re-sanded, re-wiped and painted them (black). I did the same to the pedal box.

I have ordered and since received the brake and clutch master cylinders. I have not installed them yet, though, as other projects have jumped in front of this. The posts on these other projects will keep coming, and as they complete, re-assembly will start, and then I'll come back to the master cylinders. The picture on the right here from britishv8.org is very much what I am aiming for. I've bookmarked this guy's project page for inspiration. Very nice build.

As always, thanks for following along, and I'll post more soon-

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

MGB fuse box

While waiting for the box of parts to arrive from Moss, I wanted to look into the brake lights. They worked initially, but then stopped working after the test drive.

Check Your Fuses First
Since both brake lights went out at the same time, it wasn't a bulb, but it could be electrical. I started where I should always start: looking at the electrical diagram to see what the circuit does. If you thought the fuse box for the VW bus was simple with 12 fuses, the MGB fuse box will blow your mind. There are 4 fuses.

I'll pause while that sinks in.

4 fuses.

pic swiped from MGB forum
To be fair, there are 2 additional in-line fuses floating around near the box, but the box only has 4. The brake lights run through the same fuse as most of the rest of the car (the top, #1, fuse). This fuse also runs the wipers, lights, turn signals, etc. Some of those systems worked, but all of them were temperamental. I checked connectivity with my multi-meter, and the #1 fuse wasn't reading consistently through the box. One of the fuse-holders was flaky.

New Box
Swapping out a fuse box for a modern car is a huge undertaking. Even for a bus it could be a little tricky. Doing a 4-fuse box, however, was ridiculously easy. Circuit by circuit, I simply moved the old connections to the new box. the box sits on the passenger-side wheel arch and is held on with a couple sheet metal screws. A replacement is $8. Seriously. I paid many times that much for a used fusebox for the bus. While this did fix all the other systems, the brake lights still didn't work.

Brake Switch
how to test brakes on a roadster
After getting the fuse and fuse box to pass electrical signal, the brake lights still wouldn't light up. After checking the electrical diagram, I traced the electrical to the mechanical switch in the pedal box. The switch, like so many of the systems in the MGB, is extremely simple: a depress switch with 2 wires on it. It's basically an open door switch in your modern car: when the door is open, the little spring-loaded shaft extends, and the electrical connection is made / unmade. With the brake switch, it follows a similar principle, but unlike a door switch, the trigger sensitivity can be set. Around the outside of the trigger shaft is a threaded housing that is held in place with a thin nut. By varying the depth of the nut on the shaft, you can control how early or late in the travel of the pedal the brake light comes on. Neat. Seeing how this is a little car driving around in a world of really large SUV's and luxury sedans, having those lights fire as early as possible is the best idea. At this point, of course, I just want the to fire at all. So, I threaded the nut down so that moving the pedal less than an inch will fire the lights.

As you can see from the picture on the right here, I verified my various solutions by depressing the brake pedal with a roller pole. In the picture, you can see that I got the brake lights to work.

That's it for today. There continues to be a lot going on with the project. Multiple efforts are mid-progress, so there could be a delay in  posts while I finish one of them. As always, thanks for following along.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

MGB brake job

Continuing the journey of discovery within my new project, a 1978 MGB. Today, I cover the brakes.

Symptoms
Like any older car that hasn't seen recent maintenance, the brakes were spongy. The pedal didn't depress firmly, but it returned relatively quickly, so I concluded it wasn't a matter of failing lines, it was a case of poor hydraulics at the wheels, possibly at the master cylinder. I took a look at the pads on the front driver wheel and concluded that routine brake service was due. I couldn't know the condition of the rest of the system without tearing each wheel apart, but I didn't want the little car in pieces in my driveway while I did my discovery and then ordered parts. So, I just ordered all 4 wheels worth of complete replacements. With Hapy, this would have been $500 or more. For the MG, it was under $300 including new drums, wheel cylinders, rear mechanicals, rubber hoses and upgraded rotors / pads for the front. The only thing I didn't get in that package was a new or rebuilt master cylinder.

Front
Like everything on the MGB, the wheel is smaller than the VW bus. In one way this presents itself is in how the wheel assembly is put together. The front rotor for the bus sits on the outside of the wheel hub. So, when you want to replace the rotors, its a fairly easy job: remove the wheel, remove the calipers and the rotor is right there looking at you. On the MGB, it goes: wheel/rim, hub, calipers, rotor. What makes this important is that the hub needs to be removed from the rotor (and from the car) for the rotor to be replaced. In the picture on the right, here, you can see the hub to the outside of the new rotor. This install gets messy. Grease can get everywhere. I replaced the rotors, pads and brake lines, and spent a bunch of brake cleaner to keep everything nice and clean.

Rear
The MGB has drum brakes on the rear, much like the old bus. Also like my old bus, removing the drum off the mechanicals was not like opening a present. That is, unless you like spider eggs and brake dust... and rust. I had expected this, so I'd ordered a complete rear replacement, including the drums. The original drums might have been re-used, but I don't have the equipment to check. Replacement original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sourced drums were not expensive and there's a confidence created when the entire set up has been replaced at the same time. The original shoes hadn't been wearing evenly. It looked like someone drove it around with the handbrake on. It happens; no big deal. Once the drum is free, getting the rest of the old stuff off is pretty quick, but take pictures because putting it back together is like an industrial puzzle. Without a target picture, it gets tricky your first time. The picture to the right here is an "after" picture. Like the bus drums, check the adjustment by spinning the wheel and tightening / loosening until you have just a little drag on the spinning wheel. Of course, this can only be done once the drums and rims are back on.

Rubber lines
The MGB has only one rear rubber brake line. It is accessible through the rear passenger tire well, I like the simplicity of the engineering: hard lines run down either side of the rear axle, joining at the rubber line. These short hard lines should reduce the opportunity for pressure to fall out of balance between the two sides. From the rubber line, a single hard line runs from back to front and up to the master cylinder In the front, there are separate hard lines from the master cylinder to each wheel. The last foot or so is the replaceable rubber line.
Remember to wrap the threaded lines with plumbers tape prior to mating the rubber lines to the hard lines or you'll get leaks. Replacing the rubber brake lines is super important. These lines fail from the inside, so if you don't know how old yours are, definitely replace them. Of course, any time the hydraulic system is opened (other than to fill fluid), you need to bleed.

Bleeding and bleeding
pic swiped from Eastwood
Once the system is physically back together, it needs to be filled with brake fluid. Unlike oil, you don't just pour it in the top and wait for it to work its way down. The fluid needs to be pushed or pulled (bled) to the edges of the system. Which wheel to bleed first, second, etc seems to be quite the debate on the internet. Just my opinion, but I think doing the lines in order of shortest to longest makes the most sense. My thinking: once the shortest run is full of fluid, that line won't factor into the bleeding of the others. I guess, if the system is closed except for the cap on the master cylinder reservoir and bleed bolt on the wheel you're working, it really doesn't matter. So, pick a side in the debate and go at it. Since I was on my own for this effort, I used my MityVac at each wheel rather than the pumping-the-pedal method.

Bleeding the front end was relatively quick... once I re-did the rubber hoses with plumbers tape. The rear, though, was a challenge. No matter how much I worked both wheels, I couldn't stop the bubbles from forming. Then... nothing. No more fluid passed through. There was fluid in the reservoir, but nothing passed through to the rear. Pumping the brakes didn't affect it either. I started to think that my spongy brakes cause was the master cylinder. The brake master cylinder had lots of rust on it, but costs had me on the fence to replace it. I disconnected the master cylinder and put my MityVac onto the hard line that went back to the rear end. It held vacuum. So, I concluded that it was the master cylinder that was unable to hold vacuum or pass fluid so I ordered a replacement. I'll get into the master cylinder replacement another time.

As always, thanks for following along...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Little British Car (part 2)

In my last post, I started the tale of how I acquired a new project car. I'll complete the story today. I left off having just arrived at the PO's house, in the outskirts of Molalla Oregon.

Well... there it is
As we pulled up, the property and car owner walked out. We started talking about the brief history of the car since his son picked it up. Since the real info about the car was buried in the head of someone living in Arizona, I had no alternative but to take what he said at face value. Meaning... it might be true... The convertable top was gone, leaving only the metal frame. The interior smelled like animal, and the carpet was trash. The seatbelts didn't retract anymore and the radio didn't work. Did I mention the top was just a frame? And, it had a 10 foot paint job (meaning that it looked good from at least 10 feet away). Long as the list appears, that really seemed to be the end of the bad news. The body didn't have rust on the panels, rockers or wheel wells. The interior and engine bay seemed to have handled the weather worse than the body, making me think that the car sat outside under a tarp rather than in a barn. Or, it sat next to an open window. Later, once I got a better look at it, I think it was the barn window theory since the driver side interior and engine compartment were in worse shape, leading me to believe the car was parked with the driver side next to the window. Oddly enough, the accessories (brake master cylinder, alternator, water pump, etc) on the top of the engine had more dust-rust than the underside. Perhaps an oil leak / grease was protecting the lower half of the engine? Regardless, the rust wasn't cancerous, so we kept going.

Test Drive
The owner's father and I jumped in and fired it up. The engine sounded good, but it had been running earlier that day when he drove it out of the barn so, again, face value. I revved the engine and when pulled my foot off the gas I could hear pop-pop-pop noises. That's an exhaust leak. Otherwise, it ran well. No weird noises. So, we took a spin down the drive and out onto the country road. I hadn't had much experience driving a tiny sports car like this, so I didn't have a whole lot to compare it to. I knew it was fun, and for the price it was probably worth it. It held corners, responded to the gas pedal well, and shifted firmly. Most of the accessories worked (fan, wipers) as did the lights. The dash lit up correctly with the idiot lights flashing before starting, so I had reason to believe it was a pretty good little car.

Which Way Is Out?
We settled on a price, we signed the relevant papers and the Little British Car was mine (cue the Bottlerockets "Thousand Dollar Car"). T agreed to follow me to make sure there weren't any mechanical failures on the way home. It was about this point that I started asking the now previous owner if he thought it could make it an hour away and whether the gas gauge worked. We put a couple of gallons of petrol from a red can into the tank and the seller started to give directions for finding a gas station. The directions were an instant classic containing such favorites as "take the second or third right after the big bend" and "you're gonna cross the river a couple times before..". Of course it had a couple landmarks too, like "the house without a porch" and "the place with really good pie". I'm sure if I could have understood the directions, they would have delivered us to a gas station. Instead, we ran some math, and figured that with 2 gallons of fuel we'd be most, if not all, the way home before we were in trouble.

Truckin'
Roadster in the Rain
As ominous as that sounded, the MG handled fine. As we passed through Molalla, T waved me over to let me know the brake lights weren't working any more. Neat. This was when I also discovered that the windscreen washer didn't work either. Note to self (you can use it too): check all the systems and write down your findings. Driving into a setting sun with a filthy windscreen wasn't how I wanted to start this relationship, so I dumped my water bottle onto windshield and rubbed it clean-ish with a towel we found in the Subbie. It sufficed. With T following, we put the little car through more paces, testing it's acceleration, braking and steering. The brakes grew soft, indicating an issue there, and the steering held well, but it felt like there could be more precision. The car's get up and go, however, had no problems. Once we hit the Interstate, the little car was able to cruise at 70mph and dip/dodge in traffic. T stayed right behind me, acting as my brake lights until we were in our neighborhood. We completely forgot to get fuel. We didn't need it anyway.

That's about it for today. I've since done some work on the MG and I'll post about that in the future. In the meantime, thanks as always for following along-

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Little British Car (part 1)

I've mentioned the move. I've mentioned the job change. Both of these things take quite a toll on your time and energy. Before I left that last job, though, I received that one last, albeit disappointing, bonus. I had received enough to cover my share of T's college tuition and had about a grand left over to piss away on something stupid. Enter something stupid:

Little British Car
sample, but it looked like this
My first real girlfriend had older siblings, a sister and a brother. Her sister used to hassle us about our shared love for Led Zeppelin. Her brother had an old racing green chrome-bumper MGB he had been carefully restoring that looked like the picture on the right here. I remember the family got him a wood steering wheel for his birthday and watching him melt before our eyes as he unwrapped it. As I think about it, that may have been my first within-arms-length exposure to fixing up an old car that wasn't a piece of crap. Anyway, I really liked his old MGB. I liked it so much that when I later won some money on a radio contest, I started making plans to go buy one of my own. Well... the radio contest turned to bust when they learned I wasn't 18, so my dream of an MGB drifted away. Until this past September.

Garage-eesh
As I mentioned in the move-again post, this new-to-me house is 20% smaller than the last one. I have found that the shrinkage applies to the garage as well since the laundry facility is out there. Careful measuring demonstrates that the bus can technically fit in the garage, there won't be any maintenance work performed upon it in there. Truth be told, there aren't many projects left on it that I want to tackle anyway. I really just want to drive it. So, combining the small garage, bus fitment and interest in something new, I went looking for something small. Like a Ghia or a Beetle... or maybe something not German.

Seek and Ye Shall Find
I admit that I spend more time than I probably should cruising around Craigslist cars_and_trucks and auto_parts sections. When I had some stupid money around, of course I went there. I'm always pricing cars in one way or another, so I had a pretty good idea of what I could get in a 30 year old project for a grand. The market for Ghia's is off the chart and even older Beetles are fetching a high price for no-floor, no engine/tranny projects. In the case of MG's, I found a concrete floored barn-car in Molalla, some yard art in Eugene and a few projects that looked like parts car sell-offs. Not exactly the treasure trove I'd hoped for, but with high hopes, T and I hopped into his Subbie and set off for cowboy country.

Molalla
GoogleMap of Molalla
If you've never been to Molalla Oregon, it is a contemporary version of an old west town. For example, if you pull it up on Google maps, the first business that appears is the Molalla Buckaroo Association (the Molalla Buckaroo is a rodeo). Through the center of town runs main street, and this is where you'll find most of all the businesses that operate within the city. T and I spotted a Mexican restaurant (el Charrito), and stopped to eat. It was happy hour, and the place was about 1/2 full. All locals, all friendly. We were seated in a booth, served well and ate well. We figured that since we were in the center of town, we had to be pretty close to where our barn-find lived.

Where in God's Green Earth Are We?
Not exactly. Our Google Map had us driving seemingly all over the hills surrounding Mollalla. We had to turn around a few times, but we spotted a driveway hidden by bushes on both sides. The No Trespassing sign was also obscured, but since we were invited, we turned in and headed down the gravel drive. After about a 1/4 mile, the shrubs gave way to grassy lawn spread out in front of a farmhouse. There was a large barn on it's left and a vermillion (c'mon, it's orange) MGB parked in between.

sample MGB image. Actual car much crappier

That's it for today. More next time...