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1979 MG Midget: Typical repairs to make

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MgMig1979 Avatar
MgMig1979 Mike E
Philadelphia, USA   USA
I'm currently working to get my 1979 MG Midget 1500 road-worthy. I was wondering what things on the car I should check or what repair/maintenance jobs are relatively easy on this car. I am a beginner, have pretty basic craftsman tools, and don't have the luxury of a lift. This has been a great experience thus far and i've ultimately enjoyed working on it. It would be nice to get it ready and into a car show.This forum, sprigetguru, and the UniversityMotors youtube videos have been a pretty good resource.

car has 40,886 miles and was sitting for many years (not sure how many). I know I'll need to flush just about all the fluids.

I've thrown a good deal of money into so far and have done some of the following:

* ELECTRICAL: everything works now except the buzzer system, the driver's side door light switch. went through every bullet point I could find, cleaned and greased them.
- New ballast resistor, new VB coil, new wires, distributor looked good, new battery, cleaned all grounds I could find

- The Alternator: this is original and I am not sure of its condition

* EXHAUST: new Stainless steel system from Falcon, new mounts from VB/Moss

*COOLING: Need to flush system, have new hoses for radiator and new VB radiator to install. New thermostat and new thermostat temp sender, rinsed the heater core out and fan works.

*BRAKING: New Master cylinder installed, pedal box cleaned, new kits for front and back brakes I am currently trying to install

* TRANSMISSION: fluid looked okay, no leaks in engine compartment. Not sure about the condition of the clutch.

* ENGINE: new cork value cover gasket , NOS oil press sender, new plugs. engine did turn over and car was running (ran it VERY very briefly). turned right over just about and no issues (this may not be true once I can really run it)

- have an oil pan gasket to install at some point

* I wasn't getting oil to the top of the engine, but maybe this is from sitting. I drained old oil but have a very frozen drain plug I cannot remove ATM. I'll investigate this more once I have the new radiator in and new oil/ filter in.

*FUEL SYSTEM: new mechanical pump installed, replaced all the fuel line i could see, and sitting on a NOS smiths fuel sending unit
- have an original tank and debating on installing a new one from VB W/ kit

THE REAR: looks like it was leaking in the past, I have a new seal but not sure how hard this project would be.

Emissions: E.G.R value is still good i believe... but I need to go through the black lines again, I believe I have them connected wrong. Have no idea what I could clean or what parts on this system need to be looked at. Trying to keep this car mostly stock.

* CARB: looks good, good diaphragm, sitting on a VB rebuilt kit (I'll save this for last)

* SUSPENSION: I haven't done anything with this. will install new tie-rod ends and boots for inner.



Thanks for any input and looking over this post! Any advice is welcome

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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
You are getting a good start for driver and show-readiness. I would add, though, that the suspension is one of those things that calls for more than a short sentence. Without a lift, you need to get under that car with a flashlight and check for a few things. The bottom of each spring tray (wishbone, A arm) has a very fragile area that can become torn from running over stuff. What about your steering rack boots...any of them torn? Are all the zerk fittings clean and in place? Will you be greasing the front end soon? Then, buy jackstands and put the front wheels up so you can grab them with two hands at various positions. Listen for clunks, can you turn both front wheels with a little effort on one wheel? Any stiffness or rough areas? What about up/down wobble when you grab them aggressively. Tie rods are certainly important, but "while you are in there" you may want to invest in a full rebuilt kit and learn this archaic front end literally from the ground up. Full kits cost around $170 from the usual suspects. Lots of threads on our forum about how best to tackle this. Cheers!

PS: Your car looks super clean! I'm envious.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018-04-11 02:58 PM by littlecars.

dimini Avatar
dimini Don Ipock
Kansas City, MO, USA   USA
Your car does look super clean and well cared for. (or... you've put lots of hours into meticulous detailing under the hood already).
Once you start driving it, you'll know right away if bushings and shocks need attention. I bought an 1-owner 1978 Midget last spring and though it was in nice shape, the springs were saggy on the driver's side and the rock-hard tires looked fine but felt like wood while driving. It didn't take long to figure out that it needed new springs, bushings. As for your brakes and clutch, if you haven't already, replace all the brake lines. Mine looked good, but the rear rubber line gave out after about 1000 miles so I replaced ALL hydraulics in brakes and clutch. And now, my 10-month old brake master cylinder is dripping fluid on my toes and new carpet... Be prepared for hit or miss quality-control on new Chinese parts.

Congrats on the car and welcome to a friend group of folks who are typically eager to offer up their experiences and tips for this little buggers.

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Tynwistle Avatar
Tynwistle Silver Member David L
Tacoma, WA, USA   USA
1979 MG Midget "Bruna"
Looks like you found a good one. I’d spend some time looking at the bushings. If they are the originals, you risk some loss of control at speed. The car is going to squeak and squawk until you get this done. I used the poly bushings on my 1979 and it’s a much different car now. Smooth, quiet, and stable.

MgMig1979 Avatar
MgMig1979 Mike E
Philadelphia, USA   USA
In response to all the excellent replies I've gotten so far:


I really appreciate the insight!


- I'm getting the strong consensus that the front suspension will need lots of attention. I need to familiarize myself with this aspect of the car as mentioned above.

1). Are the various bushings relatively difficult to replace? I apologize if this is a lazy question. I currently have the car on 4 jackstands and ordered poly bushings from VB for the upper trunion (I believe it's called this, please feel free to correct me) and also the rebound buffers. I'm hoping they are "plug and play" rather than in need of modification, if that makes sense. I'll admit I don't have the required skills that many on this forum have just yet.

2) the car was a one-owner MG that sat for a long time in a garage. Owner was a great guy and kept just about everything from the dealer, from the dealer key fob to the original window sticker. Everything seemed original or OEM to me, which is quite nice.

The biggest issue was all the grime/ dirt (really, a non-issue) along with some more dire issues that've come from the car not running in so long—mainly, leaked fluids. I cleaned mice and wasp nests, but thank god I found no damaged wiring.

Most people would not be as nuts as I am about detailing the car. However, it's a great excuse to take a break from grad work. I sort of have a preservation mindset with this car and want to keep anything I do relatively reversible or close to stock.That being said, I've used aftermarket parts. Time will tell how they hold up once I can really run this car.

some issues I had:
* a leaking master cylinder and radiator reaped some havoc and I found out the water pump was seized.
* oil just about everywhere as well, but that oil probably kept a lot of parts protected
* when I "fix" something, I find another brittle part that breaks in the process, this always makes me laugh/curse


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dlrhine Avatar
dlrhine Dave Rhine
South, Carolina, USA   USA
Welcome to the forum Mike, your car looks nice!
Was it a runner before you started working on it?



If it ain't broke, I'll fix it 'til it is! winking smiley

MgMig1979 Avatar
MgMig1979 Mike E
Philadelphia, USA   USA
Dave,

To answer your question, the car did not run before I bought it. so, I've been trying to bring it back to life. First problem I had was just getting spark. So, it's been a fun and enjoyable journey so far/ a good learning experience. I found an article somewhere entitled "awaking a sleeping MG" , but I'll admit, I've tackled the car differently than what's wisest most likely.

I expect some issues in regards to fuel since I have no idea about the condition of the fuel tank. I should really just buy a new tank when I have the cash available and I am sitting on a plastic fuel filter that I want to install somewhere.

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dlrhine Avatar
dlrhine Dave Rhine
South, Carolina, USA   USA
Have you had it running?



If it ain't broke, I'll fix it 'til it is! winking smiley

MgMig1979 Avatar
MgMig1979 Mike E
Philadelphia, USA   USA
yes, I had it running VERY briefly.I turned it off pretty quick for several reasons, but it turned over and ran

ill try running it again once I get the new radiator in/ flush the cooling system and put new oil/ a new filter on it.

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dimini Avatar
dimini Don Ipock
Kansas City, MO, USA   USA
A seized water pump is a VERY good reason to shut the car down quickly. Your car’s history seems very similar to mine, which I bought April 2017. Mine was original 32,000 mile car, which I bought from a 6wk-owner whose sole purpose was to flip the car. So, practically speaking, I’m the 2nd owner and fortunately the short-term owner was a car enthusiast who knew what he was doing while sorting out various storage-related issues you are facing. It saved me some time, energy. (Though I wonder just how cheap he was able to buy from the original owner...). I also have dealer invoice, window sticker stating all the remarkable features of a 1978 Midget, etc.

These little buggers are really fun, but don’t get frustrated with the crappy engineering that leaves you wondering why a critical fastener is obscured and can’t be reached w/out further disassembly. Hydraulics on these cars are not particularly fun. I’m still fussing w/a clutch that engages at the floor, even though I’ve replaced all clutch hydraulics. The great thing about lucking out and finding a survivor car w/out lots of mods is that you won’t likely have to diagnose problems created by previous owners who didn’t really know what they were doing. For example, my dealership-installed radio didn’t work. Solved that with a new in-line fuse located behind the center console. A resident mouse (during storage years) ate threw the windshield washer hose, and then urinated on the hazard light switch, shorting it out. You’ll discover a few surprises of our own and if you treat it as a hobby, it’s all fun.

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