Spring cleaning of MGB engine, transmission reveals some needs

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The engine is reasonably clean after much Gunk and labor | Andy Reid photos

(This is the next update of a continuing series about the disassembly and restoration of a 1967 MGB-GT owned by Journal writer Andy Reid.)

The MGB-GT restoration project continues at The Paddock, now with the engine and gearbox out of the car so that we were able to separate them and examine both, looking for any possible needs, such as leaks, damage, worn and broken parts, etc.

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The engine had been caked with oily crud

The engine was filthy, so my first task was to do a thorough cleaning, both to make it more pleasant to work on and to reveal any obvious leaks. After using two cans of Gunk engine cleaner, a scrub brush and copious amounts of water, the engine was finally a bit cleaner than before.

We noticed immediately that the engine needs main seals, front and rear, because of oil leakage. We also saw evidence of leaks at the side cover plates as well as the front timing cover. We will replace all of these seals and gaskets.

The cleaning allowed me for the first time to actually read the engine number for the car. I am happy to report that the number matches the heritage certificate that I have for the car, showing that it is indeed the correct engine with which the MGB left the factory in Abingdon, England.

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The correct matching number was found on the engine block

We also cleaned the transmission, after which we removed the gearbox inspection plate. On the inside of the inspection cover, we found some engraving referencing a Mr. Cox B.A. Engineering and Capt. Stephens, along with the date of 2/20/2009 engraved on the cover. We are not sure what this means but will work to find out.

The critical thing we noticed upon opening the inspection cover is that the first and reverse gears are pretty torn up. We are guessing this is due to the inability of the last owner to operate a non-syncro first-gear trans.

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The transmission with its cover removed, allowing a look at the gears

Since we are rebuilding the gearbox anyway, and the gear replacements are not a big deal. I called John Esposito at Quantum Mechanics, the best British-gearbox guy in the US, and ordered the parts we will need. He suggested adding some other bits to the order for the rebuild, and we followed his advice.

The next step in the restoration is the one I was not looking forward to, and that is body sanding, which is dirty and time consuming, and requires a certain amount of precision.  

By next week’s update, you will see my sanding progress, and if you see pictures of the entire car in bare metal, you will know we had a good week.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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