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'71 and '76, getting a pair back on the road

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Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
A couple months ago I was flipping through craigslist and a car caught my eye.. a '76 Midget that "one day just wouldn't start" so it sat for a couple years. That's just the kind of project I like, so I went and checked it out. Never been into British stuff before, almost exclusively Japanese bikes and cars, but I figured why not. It was in 'ok' shape so I left to think it over.
As it so happens, a friend's mom also had a Midget that had been sitting in the garage for something like 15-20 years (no one seems to remember for sure). He asked if I was willing to try getting it going again for his mom because she's always wanted to drive it again. Now that's a perfect situation. I bought the '76 for "parts" and dragged them both home. As it turns out the '76 was pretty much useless for parts for a '71, but it's been good to use it as a reference if I want to see how something should look.

The '76 was a basic restoration of a barn find many years ago, and looks ok. Some rust bubbles and the paint could use a polish.. but not bad.

The '71 on the other hand was a basket case. The garage it was in must have been damp. Only 1 of the wheels was locked up, but that was enough to make it annoying. We dragged it out with a truck/chain, then used another truck and chain to drag it up onto the car trailer. Then I used my daily driver to drag it off the trailer and into the garage.

Both home

It was time to figure out what shape the '71 was in.
Engine bay was a mess of brake lines and crap

Interior was a mess of animal stuff.. seeds, excrement, etc

Misc wires in the trunk

Ripped out all the carpet and pitched it.

Then powerwashed everything inside and out. It still took about a month for it to not smell like death. I actually wore a respirator for a few weeks until I deemed it to not be toxic anymore.

I beat the heck out of the rear drums and got the one side unstuck and both drums off to see what there is to see. Shoes aren't in bad shape.

From there it was going around and see what I could free up and what I couldn't.. Almost everything that should move on here, didn't.
Removed and greased the accelerator and brake/clutch pedal pivots, good to go.

Removed the E-brake stuff in the back and greased all the joints, put in a new ebrake cable, then focused on the ebrake handle which was very very stuck.
Lots of oil and hammering got the push button free and working, now I had to drive out the main shaft pivot to clean up the bore and grease it. Hammer and a socket and it came eventually

Removing countless mousenests I found the blower fan to be completely melted. I think this is from mouse urine, because I've seen melted plastic in other mouse infested areas of cars before. Weird. And Gross

With the rear brakes sorted I moved on to the clutch and brakes up front. The lines were a mess so they all came out. New masters went in, clutch slave, wheel cylinders in the back, etc. I didn't replace the calipers because they seem to be operational. Started running lines here.

Got some new bits in, accelerator cable, choke cable. Drilled a hole in a bolt to make a way to mount the choke cable to the carb (which was removed and cleaned as well).

The car also got a new fuel tank, pump, and sending unit. The old one was packed with rusty old gas, much easier to just replace than to save it.
At this point I thought the car was ready to fire up. One of the first things I did when I got it was pull plugs and try cranking it over, and it spun, so that's good.
All the electrical in the car was shot, nothing worked when you hooked the battery up, so I used a battery and just jumped 12v to the fuel pump and to the coil through a resistor, then used a screwdriver to crank the car. Also used a little emery cloth to clean the points contacts, too.
A little choke and it fired right up!!

Sweet. Now it was on to the wiring. At first I was gonna pull it and do a kwik wire kit or something.. but I wanted a challenge instead.
Here's what someone else left me with. Lots of yellow butt connectors, red wires, melted wires at the voltage reg, and mouse chew spots.

The reason the car did nothing was because a crimp failed on the big brown wires feeding power to the ign switch, but there was plenty to fix.
So I started snipping out the bad stuff, soldering and heat shrinking the chewed wires back together, etc.
Pretty soon was getting somewhere.

The factory fuses were making me mad, not making good consistent contact. So I replaced the box with a 6 slot fusebox. Much better. Still gotta finish cleanup here.

Some cheap horns from ebay mounted up front. The factory ones were dead and looked tough to get out, so I just mounted these above them. They sound pretty OK for $12.

Brake lights didn't work because of a failed brake switch. I beat a little dent into the bay so I didn't have lift the pedal box and threaded in the new switch

New plugs, wires, cap, rotor, etc

Whipped up a quick mount for the cheapo ignition switch the car came with. No idea what happened to the original.

Popped in a new voltage regulator, too. Still no charging, and upon doing some research on how to test generators, it seems this one is no good. I pulled it and will try to disassemble to diagnose it (brushes, etc?) but everything is rusted pretty tight on it right now. Soaking in penetrating oil currently.

Another major thing that needs attention.. fitting the seats back in! They came out with a grinder.
I lubed the slide adjuster locks so those move/work now.

And the rails 'sort of' slid, so I'll sandblast them and lube them and the seats should slide once again.
Test fitting the bottoms into the car. I punched out the broken studs and plan to just weld 2 bolts onto each rail so there will be studs going down through the floor, spin on some nuts, and the seats will be good to go.

And that's where I'm at as of now. Once I fix the charging issue, add some exhaust that's missing coming off the manifold, and get those seat in it will be "driveable" meaning it might be able to get a little road time.. at least drive a couple blocks to the mechanics to get some new tires put on (the tubes hold air but those tires are toast).
Some fresh coolant and hoses waiting for it, too.

Now.. then on to the green '76. A quick diagnosis pointed to the Lucas Opus ignition module inside the distributor as the culprit. I ordered a Petronix to replace it and popped it in.

And it fired right up!!

The goons who had been trying to fix it had the carb off and all sorts of goofed up. It actually was missing the slide spring! Plus when I set float height it was pouring out the carb mouth. So it got some new parts. Float, needle, spring.

And as of now the '76 is running pretty good. It also got a clutch master, slave, and line since there was no clutch when I got it. Brakes are ok, but VERY stiff. Not sure if it's because of no booster or if they're sticky.
It's gotten a couple little drives around the block and it has a habit of leaving a blue smokescreen. Stinky car.. can't even idle it in the garage. Not sure what the ordeal is, if rings are sticking and it's burning oil there or what, but once it gets a proper oil change and some miles I'll see where it goes from there.
A week ago or so when it was idling it also was leaking a decent amount of antifreeze from where the water pump housing meets the head or block sort of area.. so I got some gaskets from Moss to take care of that. Although it wasn't leaking tonight when I had it running for a bit? Ain't that funny.

There's also one major annoyance with the green '76. Reverse pops out. You need to hold it in reverse or else it pops out and grinds and it's a huge hassle. You don't realize just how annoying that would be until you have to do it. So that's a project for another day.
In the mean time the green one gets to sit out in the 'new' garage I'm working on finishing up before winter, hanging out with it's "Big" brother, a Miata. Who would've thought a Miata could ever look huge compared to another car?!

Hope you guys got some entertainment. I'm not good at remembering to take pics, but I'll try to keep updated as much as I can. Not sure where the '71 is going once it's "roadworthy", probably will get a top and carpets back in at some point I wager. Winter is coming and there will be plenty of time to work on that, though. No fun taking convertibles out in WI again until May.

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CountBasey Avatar
CountBasey Thomas Basey
Brunswick, OH, USA   USA
1976 MG Midget 1500 "Opus"
Awesome story, and you remember to take far more pics than I do. I can barely remember what my Midget looked like when I brought it home.

So I’m curious - you said someone asked you to fix the green one for his mother, but then you bought it? What happened there? Did you give them a price estimate and they said forget it?

Thomas (Count) Basey
“With each replacement of parts, my British car slowly becomes Chinese.”

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
Someone asked me to fix the orange '71 for their mother. The green '76 one was purchased to be a 'parts car' but the majority of stuff the orange one needed were cheap consumables (brake parts, etc) or non compatible between the two (distributor, hvac parts, etc).
Plus it was "too nice" to scavenge. I could probably swap the top and mechanism to the orange.. but then it would have a tan top on a car with a black interior so that will probably get purchased as well.
All said and done now the goal is to have two running driving cars. The orange one will go back to my friend's mom at some point when it's ready so she can enjoy it. And the green one will probably be something for me to play with for a bit. Don't want to consider selling or until I get some miles on it and fix the trans.

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Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
Did some work to fix the lower door hing mount on the driver's door. The hinge had rusted solid and pulled out of the rusted sheet metal mount.
Took a lot of penetrating oil and fiddling to get the hinge working well again, then I had to recreate the destroyed sheet metal.

I removed the slider mounting plate and here's what we started with

Tore out rusted sheet metal until I had a pretty clear area to work with.

Using a little paper as a template I cut out a piece of metal from a spare fender (from an Audi! This fender has patched nothing short of like 5 cars at this point..) and stuck it in.
I used self tappers as a quick way to mount it sturdy without welding.

Then I remounted the door and used a pick to scribe where the hinge holes are on the new plate.

And I drilled/cut some holes out. The 3 on the side are for plug welds to weld the piece onto the body.

Back in the car, with the mounting plate greased and placed behind it.

And the door reinstalled with a couple screws. Haven't welded it in yet incase it needs tweaking in the future.

Now there's a working door! (and window, after some lubrication). The top gap is a little tight, going to investigate what kind of adjustments I have there. Also got the seats mounted back in and rails all greased up so they sort of slide ok.

The penetrating oil also did it's work on the generator fasteners and I was able to open that up

The brushes didn't slide in their little housings and I'm pretty sure weren't making contact. I'll double check the windings and all that, but I think a new set of brushes and springs and this generator will be ready to go again.

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
Getting an order together from Moss Motors and various other places online for some more parts.. and today's heart attack is:
The cost of the speedometer drive pinion.
WOW. Even used they're $50.
Sad to say the speedometer cable was completely seized and ruined the gear while I was testing the motor/clutch/brakes/etc before I even checked to see if the speedo was working.
Live and learn.

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
It was decided we want the heat to work and a black convertible top, so more parts to keep searching for. Tonight I scoured ebay and bought a bunch of goodies..
Wiper motor and mount, full heater box with heatercore and blower motor, 3 wiper arms and wiper blades, a pigtail for the wiper motor, and a hose for the demister vents (cheaper than Moss, but only found 1). So that's some exciting stuff.. Moss will be getting an order for some more bits soon, too.

Tonight I put a little time into the car itself.

Whipped up a bracket for the hood release cable and installed that.. then installed the crusty hood. Hasn't been on this car in ages.

You can tell it was laying on this side in the dampness.

After a change of brushes on the generator, we now have a charging system, too!

So now theoretically I could drive the car around the block or something with it's fresh coolant, oil, and a working charting system, brakes, and clutch, but it's winter weather now and I may just keep it on jackstands while I work on it now, haha.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018-11-08 01:01 AM by Clutch1.

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
Fresh powercoated rims, brand new rubber, and a new battery.. and this '71 went on its maiden voyage today.

15*F and it got to drive to the gas station, get some fuel in the tank, then went for a short drive and the only issue was a failed brakeline from rust.

Wrapping up the interior, too.

Very exciting. Maybe this summer it'll be able to hit the road for the first time in god knows how many years.

littlecars Avatar
littlecars David Bassett
Nashville, TN, USA   USA
1965 Chevrolet Corvair "Ski Team Transport SOLD!"
1965 MG Midget MkII "Buffoon"
1966 MG Midget MkII "Swiss Cheese...SCRAPPED"
1970 Triumph Spitfire MkIII "Tamara's Turd... SOLD!!!"    & more
Nice. Very thorough journal of the work performed! I've done four, in similar shape. Isn't it great to hear the engine run for the first time. Yours sounded awesome considering no prior adjustments to carb or gas lines. I would recommend a new fuel filter near the carbs for the first 50 or so miles then replace again after a hundred. This will capture all the crap that was in the lines between the new tank and the carb bowls. Curious about that orange hood with the black on the front tip. I had the same on my Purple Rat--because I painted the car with a brush around the useable front bra.

1974_MG_Midget_MkIII_Purple_David_Bassett_000.jpg    51.5 KB

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
Good question on the black stripe.. I don't see any pictures of any other ones like that. All I can assume is it was done that way by the previous person who painted it (it has signs of a respray, some orange on the seals where the masking wasn't perfect, etc) did it that way for some reason. Maybe it was a rattle can job to stop the rust that clearly won?
It's good to know they can come back from the brink, though! Some TLC and paint and it's a brand new car.

I was talking to the owner the other day, discussing plans for the future (paint, for example.. but not until it gets some miles of drivetime to prove itself!) and she still needs to actually register the thing. Apparently it was purchased and the brake were bad so it was never actually put on the road. Finally getting to the bottom of the story.
So ~20 years ago it ran, but had no brakes and was parked for good in the garage we pulled it out of.
Apparently ~40 years ago was the last time it was actually road worthy, according to her!! Wow. That would mean that poor car had something like 15 years on the road before someone gave up on it. And under 50,000 miles! I don't want to speak too soon, but the engine seems healthy. It seems that the reason it got parked was from brake issues (no wonder, the 'repairs' were horrible!), and wiring problems.. there was a decent amount of cobbled wiring and melted bits.

Anyways, cool update there.
Took a little time to do a quick polish of some of the car's chrome. I love chrome because it can revive fairly easily, and spots that look horribly pitted usually look great after you knock the orange rust off, then polish, and you're left with a great shine and some tiny little dots where the rust used to be. So much better.

Left side polished.. right unpolished.

The green '76 got a little cooling system work. All new hoses, new gasket where the water pump housing meets the head (was leaking), and a new thermostat and gasket. All in the name of preventative maintenance.

I'm having trouble with the carb on the '76 still, though. It loves to run way too rich, apparently, and when I started it and ran it a couple times it kept pouring gas out the mouth of the carb! It was doing the same thing last fall so I put in a new updated float and float needle valve from Moss. Float was set to 17mm, which was what I kept finding on the internet. Should I go a little leaner with that, 18mm, 19mm to drop the bowl level a bit? Annoying enough the last time I ran it there wasn't fuel coming out the mouth of the carb, it seemed to be running great, until tonight when it decided to act up. This carb is giving me fits to get just right it seems like.

Also somewhat worrisome, I put some oil in the dashpot last time I was working on the carb, a few months ago. Today when I checked there was no oil in the dashpot and the slide went all the way up by hand with no resistance (minus the spring). Where's the oil gone off to? There's the mystery, I'll have to check into that as well. Quick search shows an o-ring lets it past when it's perished.. so another order to Moss may be in order!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019-01-26 01:29 AM by Clutch1.

200mph Avatar
200mph Platinum Member Mike Joy
Winston-Salem, NC, USA   USA
Great progress!!!

I'm wondering about the engine in your '71... all Midgets with BMC's A-Series engine (948,1098,1275cc) came with dual carbs, so thats a bit of a mystery.

As you need parts, try a free "wanted" ad in the buy-sell forum here. Many of us have good, use parts from cars that have been parted out.

MG drivers outlook:

. . . . . "Anyone going slower than you drives like a MORON, and anybody driving faster is a FREAKING IDIOT!". . . George Carlin

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
That makes 2 of us I believe! When I was looking around for an air cleaner, and like you said, I couldn't find anything about the 1275 having a single carb setup.

From what I can tell it's an SU HS4 carb. The intake/exhaust manifold seems to be all one piece, too, if that makes any difference.
Was swapping to a single carb setup a popular modification on these cars back in the day? From all the nonsense I've found on it so far it wouldn't surprise me if it was just a bodge job of some sort, either.
The quick test drive seemed to be fine as far as the car making enough power at residential speeds from a single carb, so maybe it's been up jetted or something, but lean conditions and fuel starvation when you really spank it are going to be something to keep an eye out for until we can say for sure that this single carb is suited for the car.

Glad to hear the buy/sell section on here is good! At some point I'd assume orangie will be getting a new hood when it proves itself worthy of some new paint, a perfect candidate for a nice used part!

refisk Avatar
refisk Rick Fisk
Frankenmuth, MI, USA   USA
Changing to a single carb was not a common thing. But not having the ability to get two carbs to work together properly at the same time was common (still is today smiling smiley ). So switching to a single carb made engine tuning much easier. Most cars back then had only a single carb, so finding a manifold that fits the A-series engine was probably easy. Should be fine for normal street driving.

In reply to # 3881234 by Clutch1 That makes 2 of us I believe! When I was looking around for an air cleaner, and like you said, I couldn't find anything about the 1275 having a single carb setup.

From what I can tell it's an SU HS4 carb. The intake/exhaust manifold seems to be all one piece, too, if that makes any difference.
Was swapping to a single carb setup a popular modification on these cars back in the day? From all the nonsense I've found on it so far it wouldn't surprise me if it was just a bodge job of some sort, either.
The quick test drive seemed to be fine as far as the car making enough power at residential speeds from a single carb, so maybe it's been up jetted or something, but lean conditions and fuel starvation when you really spank it are going to be something to keep an eye out for until we can say for sure that this single carb is suited for the car.

Glad to hear the buy/sell section on here is good! At some point I'd assume orangie will be getting a new hood when it proves itself worthy of some new paint, a perfect candidate for a nice used part!

Kerr Avatar
Kerr Platinum Member Norm Kerr
Ann Arbor, MI, USA   USA
summary of the many past threads about going to a single carb (and from my own personal experience)::

1) an HS4 works fine, but will be a little weak (ideal for optimal mileage). An HS6 provides the closest match to the original HS2 twin carb airflow. 1275 minis were sold both ways, HS4/HIF38 for the economy model, and HS6/HIF44 for the sporty model. Note that if the manifold and spacer are sized for the smaller carb, fitting a larger carb won't gain anything.

2) the Morris Marina used the 1275 A series in a North/South orientation (the only other car to do that, same as Midget, but, ironically, it used the 1500's transmission), and it was probably sold with a single carb. Its manifold would be convenient for converting a Midget to single carb.

3) there was an aftermarket single carb manifold made for Midgets, but IIRC is no longer in production (though, I bet Maniflow could make one if asked).

4) the readily available manifolds from minis (available both in factory cast iron, conjoined with exhaust manifold, and from aftermarket in either cast aluminum or welded steel) are angled (because the mini engine is mounted at an angle). This angle difference would tilt the float chamber if used on a Midget. That can be remedied by swapping the float chamber spacer (this part is readily available from all SU carb parts sources, as the carb was designed for just the sort of adjustability). However, even with the float chamber properly re-angled, the mini intake manifold's angle lifts the dashpot up, interfering with the hood/bonnet. Fitting a short dashpot from a Volvo corrects the clearance.

Hope this is helpful,

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
Extremely helpful!

Knowing that info, a quick google search for Mini manifolds found this;

The manifold on there now I know for sure says "tappet" and whatever else it says I don't know off hand, but it sure looks like that's it. And the carb is definitely tilted, too.
The hood closes, though, and before I mess with the bowl angle I'm gonna get a little bit of test driving in and go from there.
A tag on one of the float screws has some numbers, if anyone finds any interest in that; AUD296.

I also have a lead on why the '76 is having problems with fuel coming out of the carb mouth.
I disassembled the needle and adjustment screw so I could replace the dashpot oil sealing o-ring, and found this;

See the little brass piece at the bottom? That's the punched in 'finger' on the needle holder, and with it being broken off the spring that tensions the needle pushes it up an extra mm or two it looks like. So, hoping putting a new needle in takes care of that issue once and for all. And a new o ring hopefully will make the dashpot oil stay in the dashpot.

Also notable, after working on the car tonight I was doing some searching and found a couple very useful threads.
This is a great thread on vacuum advance/retard and which port is which on a CD150 carb. My Midget only has retard, and the vacuum line was hooked up to the top port on the carb, which appears to be for advance.,935306

Also this thread.. Guess what was plugged on my carb? That's right, the vent! Sounds like very similar issues.,3297573

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019-01-31 11:53 PM by Clutch1.

Clutch1 Isaac T
Mosinee, WI, USA   USA
Ah, and speaking of carb needles.. having a tough time making sure I get the correct one.

The little tag on the bowl is long gone on mine, but as far as I can tell it's a federal emissions CD150 '76. I've looked all over the carb for the number, can't find it.

Moss calls for the 44A needle, applications of C3754 and C3755 carb, '75 and '76. It's out of stock, of course.

There is also the 44A adjustable needle, which it says it not for my application.

However, I'm wondering what "adjustable" means, specifically? Is that in reference to the ability to adjust the needle up and down a mm with the tool, through the top of the dashpot? Because if so, mine is able to do that.

Basically wondering if there's any interchangeable part #. Moss tech support didn't want to commit that there was, so I figured I'd ask up here before I order the needle somewhere else.

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