About Me

New Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Name: Todd Russo Location: New Hartford, CT, USA

Monday, February 1, 2016

Rear trailing arm project part 2

Work continued on the winter project this week.

The first thing that had to get done was to remove the tapered skirt (or displacement unit cone) from the shaft. It was soaked with Aerokroil for three days and then hammered apart. Once the cone was separated, I went searching for the other cone for the other side of the car. I found it still inside the displacer unit. I have heard horror stories of folks who ruined their hydrolastic rubbers by forcing the cones out. Therefore, my decision was to leave it in.

Both shafts cleaned up great! I placed their respective roller joint feet by them as a reference for myself later. The "feet" (and all the parts in a rebuild kit) are the same exact parts as the front control arms, which are pricey but still available. I have decided to paint the shafts since they seem to rust easily.

Then my attention turned to arm number 2 which was equally as rusty as number 1.

Notice that the drum brake hub is red…both of them are. I do not know if that is an original color or if they were replaced at one time. I will decide what color to paint them later. I would like to keep them as original as possible. What color are your 1100 rear drums?

Number 2 was not as much of a struggle as number 1. I brought the whole assembly up to John’s to use his hub puller and other tools that my tool box lacks. After an hour and a quarter, number 2 was stripped.  And the rusty bits soaked overnight…

And were taken out, polished and/or painted…wash, rinse, repeat…

Notice that both arms still have the pivot shafts stuck in them (bottom of the picture). Before they get cleaned and painted, the shafts will need to be extracted since the bearings are completely ruined and frozen onto them.

And, the roller joint foot seats are a rusty mess.

 I hope to at least get them stripped out and cleaned this week.

Next post I hope we will be painting and reassembling both trailing arms. I would like to finish this project so I can move along to the next…cleaning up the hydrolastic displacement units.
Thanks for visiting.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter projects (Trailing arm project Part 1)

Since work on Old Biddy has come to a halt, I have decided to work on projects left over from the donor car that I have been putting off. My ultimate goal is to have my cellar all cleaned and organized. The project I am working on is refurbishing all of the 1100 rear suspension parts that I have so I can sell the extras and keep the rare ones. Since I never posted about the 1100 rear suspension, this is relevant.

The biggest parts are the rear trailing arms (or as the parts book says “radius arm assembly”). Both of them look like they were pulled up from the bottom of the ocean.

My main objective is to strip all the ruined bits off, sand blast the good cores, then repaint, and reassemble them with the good savaged “bits”. Some parts came off easily after they were squirted with Aerokroil and soaked for a few hours.
And some parts were pretty stubborn, but with patience and perseverance, they too eventually came off.

The smaller rusty parts were put in a container of Evaporust and left to soak overnight.

When I went back downstairs the next morning, the liquid had turned black. At that stage, the parts were taken out and given quick wire brush scrubbing, and a rinse off with dish detergent and hot water.

They came out pretty nice!!

And after I polished them and painted the hand brake cable/hose anchor thingy, they look great. Even the hand brake cable sector pivot part, which I thought was going to be trashed, looks great!!

Now the stripped radius trailing arm and brake backing plate are ready for the sandblaster. The radius arm still has the pivot shaft in it (on the side towards the bottom of the picture) since the bushings are frozen on. That will have to be taken out somehow. I do not think that the shaft stub (on the other end of the arm) will be touched as it is in excellent condition.

This hydrolastic displacer unit shaft, which is equivalent to the Mini’s trumpet, still has the hydrolastic unit skirted or tapered cone/cup part attached. That part has so many names!! I will be getting that detached this week.

My goal is to have everything that is going to get sandblasted set aside until I can get to John’s blaster when it warms up. Reassembly of the “bits” and pieces should go quickly as I am only cleaning everything up and not rebuilding them.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Two months of bloglessness

It’s been over two months without much progress on Old Biddy. More on that in a moment…

First, I received a message from a reader about what was done to the baby moon hub caps to “fix the problem”. Since winter is approaching and the snow tires will be put on the Fiat in a few weeks, I had to get them done. As an experiment, I poured some Evaporust into each hub cap and let it sit for a day until the greenish liquid turned black.

Since I did not know that this operation was going to be blogged, I did not take any pictures of the de-rusted caps. But believe me…this stuff works great!! I cleaned them out with hot water and dish soap then dried them off and let them sit for a couple hours to let the water totally evaporate. Then, I just sprayed them first with a rust inhibiting coating, and then primered, and clear coated them.  They are not perfect but no one will see that, and I just hope it preserves and protects them for a while.

Now back to Old Biddy…I could go on a full on rage induced rant about what I have been through with the State of Connecticut Motor Vehicle Department, but I will not. One good thing that came out of the whole “ordeal” is that she is fully insured now. Once spring rolls around, I will be back on task of having her registered. I will leave this year by giving you one word of advice…Never ever buy a car (in your state, or out of your state, or country) without a title!! So for now, Old Biddy has been put to bed where she can dream of being fully completed and driving legally on the road.

The thought that has been coming back to me is that “it is not meant to happen yet.” It will.

Thanks for visiting.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hub caps and trim mock up

Sometimes we all have to treat ourselves…just because. This past month was like that for me!

After selling a bunch of “stuff” on that auction site, I saved up enough to buy some NOS hub caps from Classic British Spares in Birmingham, England. They are absolutely STUNNING!!

One thing that I really loved about them is that the inside of the hub caps are coated and the badge attachment was epoxied. This will help to protect them and prohibit rusting.

I bought some “baby moon” hub caps for my Fiat 500 winter tires last year. After just one season in the northeast winter road crud, they rusted. Hopefully this will not happen to the 1100 even though it will not be driven in winter. Looks like I will have to do something about the baby moons before reinstalling them this year.

I mocked up the passenger side trim strips with tape and put a new hub cap on just to feel the aura of a finished car. And again (even though the trim strips need polishing), it is STUNNING, if I do say so myself!!

I put my paperwork into the state government to apply for the title. After three weeks (and they still have my $25 check), I have not heard back. Still no word back from Al to do color sanding after about a dozen calls all summer. I guess I will have to be more aggressive as I have already paid for his service!! Stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wheels, tires and more.

It took the powder coating shop a week and a couple days to work on the wheels, but the wheels finally were stripped and powder coated and ready for me to pick them up. I brought them to a place called Plas-Tec Coatings in East Windsor, CT. I was home by 10AM.

They were very accommodating and did great work at a great price!

Later that morning (at around 11AM), I took the new Nankang tires and wheels down to my local tire shop to have them mounted and balanced. The shop was a bit pricey but they always do good work. Also, the job was done within an hour. I was home by 12:15PM.

After lunch, I went out and mounted them to the car, because after all…I just could not wait to get the rusty ones off. It was 1:30PM when these pictures were taken.

I think they look awesome!! Now I am searching for a set of original MG 1100 hub caps, which are rare and expensive! After this picture was taken, I went for a cruise up the road, one mile up, one mile back. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING worked fantastically!! What a difference new tires make!!

When we had three day stretch of gorgeous weather between the heat waves last week, I took a morning to figure out how to wire the rear trunk (boot) lid handle light, which was the last electrical item that had to be finished. It was quite simple to connect the wire to the tail running light connector, then run the wire up the hollow trunk hinge and through the hollow trunk lid. At first there was a grounding issue that puzzled me, but, it turned out to be something I easily overlooked. Now it works and looks great. The handle will have to be removed whenever the car gets color sanded.

As a little side story, my father in-law took my son and I out in his restored 1960 Boston Whaler 13 a mile and a half out to this point. This is a famous daymarker in Mattapoisett on Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. For twenty years I have been yearning to go out to this and take a picture of it as it is mentioned quite a bit in all the navigational literature but it has never been pictured on the internet. You see it here first!! Here is the Cormorant Rock daybeacon complete with Double crested Cormorants!


Next big tasks are getting the title search and registration done, and getting the car color sanded so that all the trim and stuff can get put on.

Thanks for visiting.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Punching the finishing punch list

With the car now drivable and all major systems working properly, I can concentrate on getting the final bits and pieces all buttoned up for DMV inspection.

Here is the list:

The tires arrived a couple weeks ago. I decided on Nankangs because first, they are one of the only companies that makes the correct size; and second, because the reviews have been good about them.

I also ordered trim fasteners (part no. BSF078P) from Bresco in the UK. This car requires 42 fasteners. Howard was awesome to deal with!!

As for actual work on the car…the bumper bolts were finally switched out to the correct smaller ones that I got from Aaron in Oregon a couple months ago. They just look “right” now.

But, there is one hole that does not align on the right (passenger) front corner. That is for another day.

Her sun visors (sunscreens) were installed. I decided to put in the original black ones that I had rather than the ones I got from Aaron just because they were the ones that came with the car.

And, to make Old Biddy an official car again, her “Commission No.” plate was riveted in place! I had to look at the photos from nine years ago to make sure which way up was correct.

The dashboard screws were all attached as well. No picture to prove it though. The next task is getting the wheels blasted and powder coated and the tires installed. Then hopefully the body can get color sanded so all the trim can be applied.

Thanks for visiting.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Maiden voyage!!!

With the weather not cooperating last week, I had to wait for the weekend to install the driver’s side striker plate. I found out that the battery charger was hooked up wrong so I took the battery out of the car and tried again.. The battery did fully charge up after all. After it was put back in the car, Old Biddy was driven outside where there was plenty of room to move around.

Since I kind of knew what I was doing this time, this striker plate went on in only an hour, a third of the time! And it works perfectly!

After triple checking to make sure the door closed smoothly, stayed shut, and opened with both the interior and exterior handles, I called my wife outside and said, “I’m going for a ride!” “Are you sure?”, she replied. Then I said, “Here’s the camera…I’m going. Document this!” I did a quick pre-flight test to make sure all the instruments were reading correctly and everything was sounding as it should.

Then I released the handbrake, shifted into 1st gear, and released the clutch pedal as I gently pressed the accelerator. With that, we began the slow taxi up our steep driveway.

I took off up the hill to our nearest neighbor about 850 feet away with a top speed of 28mph and turned around in their driveway. I would have gone further but her tires are cracked and very unsafe.

Then we headed back down the hill towards home.

Everything worked well! I was so excited I had to stop at the top of our driveway to give my wife the thumbs up!!

Then we slowly drove back down the driveway to park and have a post-flight inspection.

Notes: The hydrolastic suspension is amazing! Our road is very bumpy. I am used to riding in my Midget and Fiat 500 and feeling every bump in the road. It felt as if I was riding in a boat, everything was smooth.

Shifting is like it was my brother’s old VW Rabbit or stirring a pot of spaghetti. Eventually you will connect with the gear, be patient!! I only used 1st, 2nd, and reverse.

The brakes worked great, the drivetrain worked great, all the electrics worked great, the suspension worked great. Next, the post-flight fiddling and finishing so she can become an official vehicle again.

There is still a punch list of things that need to be done before she can be taken through the State of Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicle (CT DMV) inspection (or as the folks in Britain say "MOT"). Connecticut is the strictest and most expensive in the US!! I hope to have her registered and insured before she gets put to bed for winter. I ordered new tires and they should be arriving today, so that can be taken care of. The next big thing is to have her color-sanded by Al, who did her bodywork and painting.
Thanks for visiting.