Overdrive & Hyper-Drive

Butch Howe dismantles an "A" type overdrive

Butch strips an "A" type overdrive

Our client asked us to staunch the flow of oil from the overdrive in his side shift Austin Healey, so we hauled it out and Butch pulled it down and found a number of very small leaks that added up to a puddle.  In our experience, the Laycock de Normanville overdrive  is about as trouble-free a mechanical device as you’re likely to find in an older sports car, but after the passage of time, 20, 30, 40, 5o years, their somewhat marginal sealing capacity becomes incrementally diminished to the point where anything south of the overdrive unit is effectively immunized from rusting.  We do this kind of work a lot, and we have the Churchill tools necessary to do the job correctly, and we do.

Assembling the bottom end of an MGB engine

MGB bottom end with selected components. Click to Enlarge

While Butch was diligently working away upstairs, I was busy downstairs cobbling together an MGB bottom end to replace the cracked cylinder block featured in our earlier post, “Return of The Hunter-Gatherer” at the end of May.  It’s kind of an interesting collection of parts; a late 18V cast iron crankshaft (ground .010″/.010″ if you look very closely) with early 5-main 18GB full float connecting rods.  We’re still trying to figure out the cylinder block, because although it featured the 18V-style exhaust relief at the top of the cylinder bores, it only has the mounting bosses for a generator bracket and not the additional second set for an alternator.  This is not a big deal, because you can use a 1275cc “A” series alternator bracket, which has the necessary offset, but still, we’re wondering…

Inspecting an MGA 1500

Inspecting an MGA 1500 with some of our rolling stock in the background

Late this afternoon I got a chance to take a closer look at the wiring in this MGA 1500. The owner had concerns about it, but I decided to give it a conditional pass.  Some repair is in order, but overall not bad for a car which is now more than 50 years old.  In the background are my MGB, a customer’s MGB, John’s mother’s Sprite, and Butch’s pickup, although he would like to trade it in on a newish MGA.

An Austin Mini panel van freshly painted BRG

Fresh British Racing Green paint on this Austin Mini panel van. Fender flares in the foreground.

Hyper-Drive: This Mini is the first finished product of the completely renovated paint shop at East Coast Collision & Restoration. Jason and his right hand man Eddie Johnson put down the hammers & dollies and took up the hammers & saws and spent a month doing a gut rehab on their stand-alone paint facility.

Mini panel van in fresh BRG, seen from the left side

Side view of this rare Mini panel van.

It’s a painter’s dream environment.  The lighting is so bright that I actually found it uncomfortable to be in there without sunglasses.  Of course if you’re a painter the complete lack of shadows from floor to ceiling is to die for !   After being backed up on paintwork for more than a month of 14 hour days of renovation work, they’re back in business again, and hopefully I’ll be able to report out in a few weeks on a currently embargoed special project.

This entry was posted in This week at the shop. Bookmark the permalink.