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Brand new owner - 1978 Mk4

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KRyan Avatar
KRyan Kevin Ryan
Piqua, OH, USA   USA
Hi there!

Brand new member, brand new owner.

Bought a 1978 Mk4 Midget this weekend. The car reportedly has not been operated in 20 years. Looks reasonably together, all parts there. The car is not a basket case. It is fully assembled. Paint (yellow) is poor, but not much rust. A very little bit in the rear wings, a little bit more where the rear of the cloth top meets the rear wing.

The car is missing keys, so can't do a lot now,

So here is what I know. Brakes are non-existent. Lines look rusty but don't know of any leaks. Reported to me that gas tank has not had any gas in it for a long time, perhaps 20 years.

Electrics that don't require the key work. The engine is free.

I'm not planning on a full restoration, at least not now. Right now I want to make it a runner/driver.

Here's what I'm thinking.

First, get a key. Once I get a key, see what works and what doesn't, and fix that. What should I look at to get it started? I know the usual, fuel, spark, etc. Should I just dump some fuel in the tank? I had a friend that had an old "Big Healy" that had sat for a while and the fuel pump was toast. As I recall, it was a rubber diaphragm in the pump that had just "gone away."

Anyway, I'm just looking for some advice so I don't do any damage. I did own another British car in the past, and I had to pay attention to a couple of things, particularly brake fluid. This one looks like I can use "regular" DOT 3 fluid.

I'm just looking for someone that has some advice on "gotchas" on bringing one of these old girls back from the dead.

Thanks for any help.

Kevin

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CountBasey Avatar
CountBasey Silver Member Thomas Basey
Brunswick, OH, USA   USA
1976 MG Midget 1500 "Opus"
There are some excellent articles in the forum about “waking a sleeping MG”. You might want to start with those. Two things I will say... do NOT just dump gas in the tank. If it’s been idle that long you’ll wash the crud and/or rust from the tank into the fuel lines - and then you’ll have a real headache. It’s fairly easy to drop the tank and clean it out - probably worth your time and you can check the intake tube and pump seal on the top as well. I’m not a mechanic and I’ve done that job.

Dot 3 is original for these cars, but remember it eats paint if you spill it. Fill with caution. If you’re missing brake fluid - it had to go somewhere. If the metal lines look good then maybe one or more of the flex lines to the brakes themselves could be leaking.

Snap some pictures of the car and engine bay. It will help the other forum members with your questions. Have fun!



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

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jmac Avatar
jmac Platinum AdvertiserAdvertiser Jere McSparran
Greenup, IL, USA   USA
1971 MG Midget "Joy Ride"
1978 MG Midget "Therapy"
1978 MG Midget "(SOLD)"
Welcome to our madness, KR.

You will find this forum to be very valuable. There are some decent manuals out there that you can pick up. Most of the parts you will need can be purchased online through Moss Motors, Victoria British, BPNW, etc. There are also a lot of good vendors that will post from time to time that have expertise in specific areas like suspension, carbs, distributors and so on.

We love pictures! You will be amazed what others will pick up on when they see your pictures.

Something else you should do is go into your profile on this forum and fill in the info on your car. It will then appear under "send a message" at the top of all your posts. It is very helpful to us when answering questions.

We look forward to hearing about your progress!



JMac
JMAC Engine Shop
http://www.jmacengineshop.com


Member Services:
Midget/Spitfire 1500 engine rebuilding.
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KRyan Avatar
KRyan Kevin Ryan
Piqua, OH, USA   USA
First thing is to get a key. Is the same key used for doors, ignition, boot and glovebox? If so, locksmith told me to bring in one of the locks (probably glovebox) and he can hook me up.

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refisk Avatar
refisk Rick Fisk
Frankenmuth, MI, USA   USA
Nope, keys are different for ignition and the other stuff.


In reply to # 3898498 by KRyan First thing is to get a key. Is the same key used for doors, ignition, boot and glovebox? If so, locksmith told me to bring in one of the locks (probably glovebox) and he can hook me up.

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CountBasey Avatar
CountBasey Silver Member Thomas Basey
Brunswick, OH, USA   USA
1976 MG Midget 1500 "Opus"
In reply to # 3898498 by KRyan First thing is to get a key. Is the same key used for doors, ignition, boot and glovebox? If so, locksmith told me to bring in one of the locks (probably glovebox) and he can hook me up.

As already mentioned, the ignition key is much larger than the glovebox, doors, and boot locks. Also be cautious when having those done. I brought my glovebox lock in to a locksmith and had keys made. Now I have door and glovebox keys, but apparently my boot handle was replaced at some point (still have an open trunk!)



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

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KRyan Avatar
KRyan Kevin Ryan
Piqua, OH, USA   USA
I was given an ignition switch that was still attached to a steering column. I'm trying to remove the shear bolts holding the switch to the column. I looked on this forum and someone suggested cutting slots in the top of the hardware and unscrewing them. That didn't work for me. I started drilling the "heads" but I'm getting fairly deep and the "heads" haven't come off yet. I don't want to damage the switch housing, so I stopped drilling. Maybe I'm using the wrong size bits? The replacement hardware looks like a shear bolt - the shank of the screw "necks" down below the head, and I'm assuming the original hardware is the same.

Anyone have any ideas? Should I just keep drilling?

I'll get pictures this weekend. Weather looks good here in Ohio for Saturday.

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Chas 906 Avatar
Chas 906 Chuck Peterson
Iron Mountain, MI, USA   USA
1961 MG Midget MkI "Little Red Rider"
Welcome Kevin. Ya, send us pics. We love pics!

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AN5L8016 Avatar
AN5L8016 Mark Haynes
Nederland, CO, USA   USA
I've removed shear bolts previously by using an old phillips screwdriver with the tip ground to a point and a hammer. you chase the bolt out by driving it radially with the point.
If your drill bit is smaller than the shank of the shear bolt (past the shear point) you'll just keep drilling, run a bit larger than the shank size under the head (since you have the replacements, that should be easy to determine) to drill out the head only, you'll get to where the head just spins with the drill bit and you're done.



'58 Bugeye
'05 Mini Cooper S

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KRyan Avatar
KRyan Kevin Ryan
Piqua, OH, USA   USA
Here are some pictures:


Attachments:
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CountBasey Avatar
CountBasey Silver Member Thomas Basey
Brunswick, OH, USA   USA
1976 MG Midget 1500 "Opus"
Looks fairly complete. 1500 engine with original Zenith Stromberg CD150 carb. Contrary to popular belief on this forum, the Zenith carb works just fine and is actually easy to rebuild (if needed). They often get a bad rap because of common issues with a “water choke” feature that came on many of them. I don’t see a radiator line going to yours - do you have a manual choke pull knob on your dash? The best part is that your engine looks like every shop manual made for 1978 models - makes working on them a lot easier.

Looks like the engine has been de-smogged, meaning there isn’t any air-rail or EGR valve (been plugged on your intake manifold from what I can see). All of which is not uncommon with the age of these little cars.

In a nutshell - it looks all there except for the battery. Clean out the tank, check the coil and points, and you might just get it to fire up as-is. Of course, there are other things to check before hitting the road if it does.

Good luck.



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

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lewmac Avatar
lewmac Silver Member Lew McAllan
Hawthorn Woods, IL, USA   USA
1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite "Buggy"
1968 Austin-Healey Sprite "Bluey"
1969 MG MGC "Greeny"
Hi Kevin,

If there is a code engraved on the ignition switch, there is an outfit that makes new keys based on the code. It is like two letters and 3 numbers on Sprites, like FS 123. See if you can find it and I will try to find the link to the key guys. Certainly easier than drilling out those fastners.


Cheers
Lew

In reply to # 3898498 by KRyan First thing is to get a key. Is the same key used for doors, ignition, boot and glovebox? If so, locksmith told me to bring in one of the locks (probably glovebox) and he can hook me up.

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lewmac Avatar
lewmac Silver Member Lew McAllan
Hawthorn Woods, IL, USA   USA
1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite "Buggy"
1968 Austin-Healey Sprite "Bluey"
1969 MG MGC "Greeny"
Here is the link:

https://www.triple-c.com/Products/FS_KEY_CUT_TO_CODE/KEY-FS

Great service, I have done this several times for Bugeyes. They even have teh correct "original" blanks for your car.

Cheers
Lew



In reply to # 3898498 by KRyan First thing is to get a key. Is the same key used for doors, ignition, boot and glovebox? If so, locksmith told me to bring in one of the locks (probably glovebox) and he can hook me up.

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terryke5hwe Silver Member Terry Halbert
Rogers, AR - Arkansas, USA   USA
1978 MG Midget 1500 "Midge"
1979 MG MGB "Money Pit!"
Welcome to the madness! I would replace the fuel tank, not expensive. Also all the hydraulic's. You might get lucky and just blow out the brake lines. They make copper alloy line that comes in a coil that is easy to work with, not plumbing type.

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Homerr Avatar
Homerr Jeff Kogut
Seattle, WA, USA   USA
1966 MG Midget MkII "Sold!"
1970 MG Midget MkIII "Midget On A Spit"
1971 MG Midget MkIII "The Donor"
1973 Triumph TR6    & more
Hi Kevin -

I think your paint looks good enough to buff, my '75 looked similar. Take a look at the pics of the flat paint before and after:





I used this 7" buffer with 3M Finesse It II. I used CarGuys Vinyl and Plastic restorer, amazing stuff for bringing back seats, dash, bumpers. I thought they were goners, but this made them look almost new. It added moisture to dry and chalky bumpers and brittle vinyl and made it decently pliable.

Also, make sure to check out the Library tab at the top of this page, many useful articles including starting a dormant MG.

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