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Dave's '63 Midget project...

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owdlvr Dave Hord
Squamish, Canada   CAN
A bit of an introduction...

Back in November I was in California working on a buddies MGB, when I had to run out on a parts run. Now, at this stage I should mention that I'm a Volkswagen guy. I have a few beetles, and prefer the brilliance of German engineering. So, when spending time with one of my best friends, the previously-mentioned MGB owner, it's a fun battle of who's favourite design team was more backwards or confused. Alas, he felt I really must experience British motoring for myself, more than just borrowing a car, and so last summer he gave me an MGB. Five days of hammering away on it, and then I drove it from L.A. to Canada. The problem with the B, however, is that I don't fit. I'm too tall. The top of the windshield is right at my eye level. And so, while I enjoyed the trip home from California, it hasn't been a priority to get the floors welded in and put it on the road officially (I drove it from California on 3/4" plywood). Who wants a car they don't fit in?!

Wait, "we're in the Midget forum", I can hear you saying. Well, yes. I had to run out for parts, and borrowed his wife's car...a Midget. No top, no bumpers, no windshield, but brooklands screens. It was wonderful! I emailed a friend back home, asking how to modify my MGB in a period-correct fashion to be just as good, and was informed "you need a midget." Well, now, I've got a Beetle project on the go so I'm definitely not adding a Midget into my collection right?

Oops. Well, the price was right?

So here it is, a 1963 Midget. Disc brakes, 1098cc, runs and drives...doesn't stop. Previous owner put a new master cylinder in, and had no clutch on the brand new cylinder. Rebuilt the old one, and there is some clutch action, but no brakes. Gotta solve that one, but it also came with the caveat that "it needs some work on the spring perch and rocker". Initially I figured I would do a quick turn around while frustrated with my Beetle project, but its going to need a little more work than a quick side job. (Top tip: read about Midget sills and spring perches BEFORE loading the car on the trailer!)


With the hardtop gone, I fit relatively well in the Midget. I'd like about 2-3" more leg room, and the windshield needs to go, but at 6'4" its surprising how comfortable it is. The roll bar, which is currently structural on this particular example, will also need to go.


Once in the shop, the car gave up a torn tonneau cover, and a moldy (but saveable) car cover…


Some free parts as well…not a whole lot, but still for the price paid, not a bad deal.


Fiberglass in the rocker.


Passenger side floor.


Now, I know it’s British and they leak from the factory, but I’m pretty sure that seeing the sky through the rocker panel wasn’t a feature they left the factory with.


The end caps on both rockers are loaded with fiberglass, and the driver’s side rocker inner panel is loose, probably rotted away from the car. Going to be a fun one! At this stage, I really need to decide what the plan is. I wasn’t planning on doing a full tear down and restoration, my initial quick look when I loaded it on the trailer was the back 1/3rd of the rocker and a bit around the spring box. But this is a little more than I was planning!

My current VW project is missing a bit of sheet metal at the moment, so what’s another car?


The disappointing part is I was hoping to have this Midget on the road for the summer, but given the work it needs and the amount I travel, I doubt that will be a possibility. Rather than have a number of threads with questions, I figured it would be best to put the build in one single thread. If I can't find an answer to an issue I have, I'll post it up here. For now, though, I’ll be searching floor pan and rocker replacement threads!

-Dave

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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
Great story, and nice 20-footer Midget! We've all purchased a car at a price too good to pass up. Then you notice things as you're loading it on the trailer (with the cash still warm in the seller's hands). Well, these experiences make us stronger as they say. I was working on the gas tank on my 65 when I started poking an area of the rocker that had maybe a dime sized hole. That hole became a chasm with little more than a tap of my fingernail. Bondo sure does like to cling even when the metal underneath is rust.

Cheers and welcome to the forum. Your car is outfitted well now. Can't wait to see it with the Brooklands screens and no roll bar. MG

Chas 906 Avatar
Chas 906 Chuck Peterson
Iron Mountain, MI, USA   USA
1961 MG Midget MkI "Little Red Rider"
Great story and introduction Dave. The guys here are a great help as I can attest to. They have helped me out during my 4 year restoration project. I'll be totally done with it and ready to drive this spring. Welcome and good luck.

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owdlvr Dave Hord
Squamish, Canada   CAN
Well, stripped it down last night. To repair the car properly, using proper panels, is definitely more work than I was interested in getting into this winter. It's primarily floor boards, with some issues on the inner and outer rockers. Going to take a breather, and decide if I can patch panel it in-situ to make the car safe enough to enjoy for the summer, or if its too far gone to patch it safely.

I do realize the idea of patching it up to make it last a year is a relatively poor idea, and certainly going to make a number of you cringe. If this was a beetle forum I'd be the guy saying "do it right", but hey...if I don't patch it, the car will essentially get pushed out into a carport to languish for a year or two while I work on the primary project (that orange beetle). Will update after a day or two of thinking about it!

trevorwj Avatar
trevorwj Trevor Jessie
Louisville, KY, USA   USA
As long as the patches are welded in... go for it.

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!

You seem like a "weld in new metal" type of guy rather than a "fill it with bondo" type, that's good. Most of the panels are available especially the suspect areas that cause the most problems. If you have rocker cancer you might want to check out the base of the "A" pillars just under the door hinges, it's a common cancer location. Some guys weld in straight sheet metal for the floors, which works I guess but the floor pans you buy work very well.

Many of us have build rotisseries from engine stands attached to the bumper mounts so we can turn the car at a good working angle. But usually we have the major parts removed for that.

Keep us updated on your progress!



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


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owdlvr Dave Hord
Squamish, Canada   CAN

The repair records of this poor midget show a receipt for "restoration and paint" back in 1999. The owner paid just under $400 for the entire job, and if these inner sill repairs are any indication...they got exactly what they paid for! Now, in the early 90's fiberglass (while wrong) was still an accepted way to repair cars like these in some circles. The thing is, I was under the impression that you actually had to cut out the rust in order to consider it a proper repair. The shop that did this work, just laid it right over the rust. Yeesh.

So my buddy Mark called me shortly after I posted the issues photos to ask how things were going. I was somewhat deflated by how much work the Midget was going to need. "Dave," he said, "I'm coming over!" That may not seem like such a big deal, but I live on an island...Mark does not. It's basically a 5 hour trip, door to door to get to my house. I picked him up at the ferry the next morning, and after a stop for some steel we got to work. After carefully assessing the car's needs, we worked out what panels, and parts would need to be replaced for a proper, factory restoration. That assessment then gave us the panels we could modify, touch and weld to without compromising the ability to restore the car to factory specs. So, for example, if the cross member would need to be replaced for a factory restoration, we could cut/add/weld or otherwise modify it for this repair, as long as it didn't compromise another part we wouldn't need to replace. On the bulkhead, for instance, I won't need to replace all of it for a proper repair, just the sections covered by the smallest available repair panel...so that gave us the 'window' we could work with on our current repairs.

Together we put in 42-man hours on the Midget over the last two days and patched sills, floors, strengthened spring mounts, strengthened and/or repaired cross members and more. The Midget is now structurally safe, though definitely not matching factory panels! Welds got a coat of seam sealer and black paint before I realized I hadn't taken any photos. Paint here is still semi-wet, but when it dried it actually looks quite presentable. Besides, black paint (and carpets) hide all sins tongue sticking out smiley


So at this stage I have a structurally safe Midget with seat belt mounts and structure that won't fail in a collision. I still have more work to do, but the winter is long. Can't complain when you have friends like my buddy Mark!



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

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
I'm jealous! smiling bouncing smiley I wish I could have a friend help over the course of a couple days do the metalwork on my 65! I know my rockers, and on up into the fenders and trunk, are patched the same way. "Acceptable" back in the day when panels weren't available.

And you've got an excellent dash pad to boot! Those are unobtainable! Cherish it! grinning smiley

Skeezix Avatar
Skeezix Silver Member Robert Klyver
Playa Del Rey, CA, USA   USA
Epic.
Mine started 28 years ago in a ravine in California, with a creek running through it.
Little tinker here & there and poof the most fun ever.
Good on ya.



61 Midget Mk 1 GAN1L/294*

owdlvr Dave Hord
Squamish, Canada   CAN
Alrighty, arriving home after a 14 day adventure driving classic trucks from Houston to Detroit, as part of the Drive Home IV event with America's Automotive Trust. Of course, I had planned on ordering parts before I left...and ran out of time. I planned on ordering from my hotel room, but never had a chance. So I've got no parts, and a car needing work. Sigh. I'll be off again before long, so we'll see what I can't get expedited to the house before the end of the week. Things I know I need to deal with:

Brake/Clutch Master
Rear wheel cylinders
Rear shoes
Carpet Kit - Likely going to just make one out of Automotive carpet rolls I have.
Seat Upholstery - Thinking I'm going to go with a custom option, gotta go and talk to the local upholstery shop to see if they can do what I'm thinking.

A few questions for you folks:
1) Door panels - Anyone have photos of what correct door coverings are for a 1963 Midget? Moss/Victoria motors just use illustrations, and the P.O. simply glued grey carpet to the doors as part of the 'restoration'.
2) Rear view Mirror - Since I'm removing the windscreen, and going with Brookland screens, I'm going to need a dash mounted mirror. Any suggestions on which one I should buy?
3) Top - I've got a folding top from a '66, I presume that its different due to the change from screen windows to wind up? Simply need to figure out if I keep it, or sell it. Would the folding bars be compatible with the '63?

-Dave



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019-01-15 02:33 PM by owdlvr.

Chas 906 Avatar
Chas 906 Chuck Peterson
Iron Mountain, MI, USA   USA
1961 MG Midget MkI "Little Red Rider"
Hi Dave. Do you have a copy of Terry Horler's book? If not I can scan and send some of the pics showing the interior of an MK1. I'd send pics of my '61 MK1 but I think your car may have door handles???

owdlvr Dave Hord
Squamish, Canada   CAN
I have neither the book, nor door handles. It's an early sidescreen, no door handle, car.

Photos or scans would be great! Thanks!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019-01-15 04:39 PM by owdlvr.

Chas 906 Avatar
Chas 906 Chuck Peterson
Iron Mountain, MI, USA   USA
1961 MG Midget MkI "Little Red Rider"
Okay. I have attached a three pics out of Terry's book. They show the black vynide covered hard board and map pockets. This is what I have on my '61 also. However my map pockets were removed during restorations and not mounted right now so I haven't included any pics of them. I would think any vinal would work to cover both the inner doors and map pockets. Have you got the map pockets? If not I can put you in touch with a guy that I got mine from.


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Chas 906 Avatar
Chas 906 Chuck Peterson
Iron Mountain, MI, USA   USA
1961 MG Midget MkI "Little Red Rider"
Sorry, I sent two of the same pics. Here's the third pic.


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owdlvr Dave Hord
Squamish, Canada   CAN
Blast! Body colour metal, and door pockets. I was afraid of that. I've got a clearly home-made solution, and I'm not sure how the paint quality is underneath...guess I'll be tackling that tonight.



A source for the proper pockets would be appreciated. Thanks again!

-Dave

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