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1957 MGA roadster restoration with an enhancement

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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
I am starting a thread to document the restoration of my ‘57 MGA. If anyone has been following my journal, you know I’ve basically finished the restoration of my ‘76 Spitfire which I documented heavily there. I’m waiting for better weather to get it on the road. Now that the Spitfire is done, I’m twiddling my thumbs and can’t wait to start something new. The Spitfire took 6 1/2 years eye rolling smiley, my hope is that I’ve gotten faster and better, and this one won’t take as long.

I’ve had the ‘57 for a while and I also have a ‘59 that is also in need of restoration and a ‘77 MGB driver.

I chose to do the ‘57 for several reasons, the ‘57 was an unfinished project, in pieces and very little of the original car there. Many likely would have just used what was left for parts, but I couldn’t let go. The frame is in fantastic shape and needs nothing. I had it sand blasted and painted it with Master Series AG111 primer and paint back in Dec 2015. I have been gathering parts for it since I bought it in June 2014 from Scott Harper at Team Triumph in Warren OH. The ‘59 I also have is intact and original, but will need frame and body work. But should be a great model to allow me copy it when questions come up. If I ever decide to do a numbers matching restoration, the ‘59 is the best candidate as the guy I bought it from had it since ‘62 and as far as he remembered it never had an engine replacement. All the numbers line up with all the forensics available and the heritage certificate.

So now the twist. The ‘57 will never be original, but has good bones. I spent time reading John Larson’s upgrade of his MGA coupe with a 1.8l Miata motor and transmission. You can find that thread here https://www.mgexp.com/forum/mg-engine-swaps-forum.40/mga-coupe-miata-1-8l-build-thread.3107418/ . That was my inspiration and how-to manual for this project. I’ve been on the hunt for a wrecked Miata for the last year, scouring Copart and Craigslist, I missed several, but finally brought home a ‘97 with motor issues a couple of weeks ago. I know this year isn’t the ‘hot ticket’ the ‘99 or ‘00 would be, but it does have a 1.8l and the hp is just a bit less. Also the motor will have to be overhauled, so that will be a learning experience.

The majority of this thread will be all about the restoration of the basket case ‘57. Once I get the body done, I will start on the Miata motor installation. I will then work the overhaul and transmission. I will be using the MGB front suspension so I get discs in the front and more room for the motor. I have a 3.9 pumpkin and rear end for it to go in. The rear end I have is set up for wire wheels though, so the conversion to steel wheels will be done. Everything on the outside will be MGA. I haven’t decided how far I will go on the interior. I have everything necessary to stay stock, but that is in the future, plenty of time to change the plan.

The enhancement part may turn some off but I hope you guys will not mind too much as the majority of the car will remain stock and this thread will cover lots of restoration work. I hope you guys are gentle with me and if you see me slip along the way please feel free to pipe in with help and advice to make this an enjoyable thread in the vain of Bob’s Driver quality coupe thread or John’s MGA upgrade thread.

So let’s begin with some history photos of the original trip home in 2014, painting the frame, and moving day today when I got it into the shop.

Thanks for reading and future participation.

First picture is how I found it atmTeam Triumph
Second pic is the trip home
Third pic is trying fenders I’ve acquired for it over the years
Forth pic is painting the frame on Christmas Day 2015



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 2019-02-25 05:45 AM by ohmite.

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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
More photos. The Miata donor, moving day today.


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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
After moving the car, I was able to get right to work on it.

First order of business was to get the body lined up and attached to the frame. I lined up and bolted the frame extension in place. I lined up the two holes inside of the A-post and tightened them down. I then added the four bolts in the trunk area.

The nose though is where the first problem comes up. During the previous failed restoration the nose piece had been replaced. The nose job was not the best though as the bonnet lines up well until the joint where it was spliced in, but droops from there leaving about 3/4” gap at the front. I am using the bonnet from the ’59 which is perfect, so I know it was never bent and provides a good reference. Looking down the line of the bonnet you can see a hump at the joint. Also there is a gap between the body and frame near the location where the extension attaches to the frame which is near the splice. I have also mounted the nose cavity floor to the frame extension so that lines up well too and isn’t too out of place there.

So my first question. Does anyone have a good picture or idea of how much of a gap, if any there should be between the frame and body? I have provided some pictures below. I may pull the wheels off the front of the ‘59 and see how that looks in this area.

My plan is to release the poor welds that are in the wheel well, releasing the stress to the point that the droop goes away and the bonnet lines up. I hope to not have to recut the top joint. But time will tell.

Anyone have any insights or pictures of this area to add?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019-03-02 06:54 PM by ohmite.

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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
More pictures


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mg1622 Avatar
mg1622 Terry Armitage
Sundre, AB, Canada   CAN
Hello Eric, I just happen to have a 59 roadster sitting on the hoist ,The extension has been removed ,Here are some pics .It looks like yours is the same a mine, the gap is around 5/8 .I will be following your build .Terry


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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
Hello Terry,
Thank you for the pictures and measurements. I will compare them with mine. You are right they look the same. I’m using you and others as examples of great work and informative posts, so keep me on my toes smiling smiley.
Regards,
Eric

In reply to # 3898099 by mg1622 Hello Eric, I just happen to have a 59 roadster sitting on the hoist ,The extension has been removed ,Here are some pics .It looks like yours is the same a mine, the gap is around 5/8 .I will be following your build .Terry

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Jeffs72MGB Avatar
Jeffs72MGB Jeff Strong
Eden, NY, USA   USA
Hi Eric,
To bad we aren't still neighbors, you could just come over and take all the measurements you needed.
Jeff

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Grubeguy Grube Guy
Washington, DC, USA   USA
I'm kind of in the ballpark with my own resto as you are (body going into the frame in some future point). Are you just fitting yours, or are you going to lock down the body and install the engine with the body on? If locking down, did you install the cork gasket?

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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
Hi Jeff,
Yes it is, it would be so much easier to just pop over and look at yours :-/. We love the new house though and I do have more room for my toys.

I hope you and your family are weathering the latest storm ok, it was quite a doozy. How is your project coming? Last post I saw you were tearing into the B-post on the passenger side. I will have to stop over when we are in the area next.

Take care,
Eric

In reply to # 3898158 by Jeffs72MGB Hi Eric,
To bad we aren't still neighbors, you could just come over and take all the measurements you needed.
Jeff

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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
Hello Grube,
You are much further along on your restoration than I am, I’ve got a long way to go to catch up. I’ve been following yours.

I bolted the body down just for alignment and using the frame as a jig. I did something similar with my Spitfire, but no rotisserie this time. The first job is to fix the nose, but both sills will need to be replaced so I hope the replacement of those will be more accurate holding everything in place while I do those repairs. Once I get the nose and sills done and I’m happy with the door and fender fit I will pull the body off and start working the engine and transmission swap and installation of the MGB front suspension. After all that is done I will put the body back on for good (I hope). I will use the cork gasket (or equivalent) when I do that.

I’ve included a couple of pictures of the sills, they really need some work.

Regards,
Eric

In reply to # 3898160 by Grubeguy I'm kind of in the ballpark with my own resto as you are (body going into the frame in some future point). Are you just fitting yours, or are you going to lock down the body and install the engine with the body on? If locking down, did you install the cork gasket?


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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
Terry,
Thanks again. I checked mine this evening, it is also 5/8”. So my idea that this gap being too large would confirm the droop of the nose section doesn’t hold water. I still have the reference to the bonnet (that shows the gap) but had hoped for a more repeatable one referenced back to the frame. I will keep looking.

In the mean time I found something interesting about the joint where the spice is. It appears to only be tack welded in three or four spots and the remainder is held together with a black adhesive. Not very good adhesive at that. I can separate the pieces with the judicious use of a sharp chisel and hammer. I will break out the wire wheel and Dremel to cut the welds tomorrow and see if I can make progress separating the joint.

-Eric


In reply to # 3898099 by mg1622 Hello Eric, I just happen to have a 59 roadster sitting on the hoist ,The extension has been removed ,Here are some pics .It looks like yours is the same a mine, the gap is around 5/8 .I will be following your build .Terry



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019-02-25 06:24 PM by ohmite.


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Jeffs72MGB Avatar
Jeffs72MGB Jeff Strong
Eden, NY, USA   USA
Eric,
I haven't been doing much on my A it's been to cold in the garage. Besides I need to order inner sills and wing repair panels.
Been spending my time on small projects on my B.
Hopefully we can get together this Spring and go out for some top down driving.
Jeff

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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
Jeff,
I know what you mean, it’s been pretty cold. Were you ever able to get those inner sills I bent up to work? I will be needing some for this car. If they didn’t work I will need to order some.

Top down drive sounds like a great idea. I need to make some shake down runs on the Spitfire and the Southtowns seems like a great destination grinning smiley. Winter is not over yet, but it will be!
-Eric

In reply to # 3898755 by Jeffs72MGB Eric,
I haven't been doing much on my A it's been to cold in the garage. Besides I need to order inner sills and wing repair panels.
Been spending my time on small projects on my B.
Hopefully we can get together this Spring and go out for some top down driving.
Jeff



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019-03-02 07:01 PM by ohmite.

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Jeffs72MGB Avatar
Jeffs72MGB Jeff Strong
Eden, NY, USA   USA
Eric,
I never did get those sills from you. I think you had a lot of other things on your mind with the move.
Diane has caught the camping bug once again so she has me looking at Class C campers. Sounds like my A will be put on the back burner once again.
Jeff

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ohmite Avatar
ohmite Eric O
Wilson, NY, USA   USA
Jeff,
Ugh, sorry confused smiley. I likely got distracted by the move. I will bring a pair down next time I come down to the area.

I couldn't get my wife to camp if I sedated her, she hates it, one thing I had to give up. I hope you enjoy the camping, not exactly an even trade for the fun with the MGA, but I understand smiling smiley.

Take care,
-Eric


In reply to # 3899328 by Jeffs72MGB Eric,
I never did get those sills from you. I think you had a lot of other things on your mind with the move.
Diane has caught the camping bug once again so she has me looking at Class C campers. Sounds like my A will be put on the back burner once again.
Jeff

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