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MG Magnette V8

Starting the assembly, as any restorer or builder knows, is a major stage on the project, but that does not mean that the end is nigh.  Far from it...   

JANUARY 22nd 2007 - the assembly started

Even though Farnie had reassembled the rear end, it wouldn't attach correctly!  Clearances and bush sizes were such that some were not interchangeable, so most of the morning was spent easing clearances and swapping parts over.  A bit of a disappointment, but par for the course as they say. After lunch, when the brakes and sundry brackets were bolted up fully, a couple of brackets needed a bit of milling to give the correct fit, but by 3pm (when we had to finish), the rear end including Panhard rod and all brake pipes, shock absorbers etc were attached.

Meanwhile, I had  attached the pedal box, steering column outer, master cylinders and most brake and fuel pipes plus the brake bias lever.  At this stage, I left all pipe unions loose so that Farnie could systematically work his way through and check and tighten. I also attached the modified handbrake and cable, making sure there was ample grease on the cable and pins of course.

After a bit of trim painting - track rod ends, brake clips etc., I loosely attached the reconditioned power steering rack (ZF, ex BMW) and loosely assembled the front suspension components on the bench, just to speed up the process a wee bit for Farnie, who would have to set up all the steering and angles before the full alignment at a later date. (What I didn't know at that time was that much of this would have to be junked and replaced anyway.)


Farnie attached the front suspension with the Triumph 2.5 ball joints fully pressed home only to find that in simple language, the suspension didn't work...  Three areas specifically weren't working.

  •     The ball joints were binding

  •     Front hubs needed grinding down

  •     Top ball joint angles needed turning

  •     Logic dictates that if you have a triangle and try to shorten any one leg, then it will pull the other legs and change the angles, and if that angle is fixed, then some form of joint needs to be incorporated...

Farnie had already cut through a couple of components and taken out the top ball joint housings by the time I arrived.   We called in Mal who had designed the suspension and I left them to it to sort it all out, fuming quietly in the corner at the total waste of my hard earned cash - twice over. Once for the initial construction and again to correct a flawed design.

If there is one thing I have learned so far it is that as the customer, you have to make sure that the builder not only understands what the car is to be used for, but also to challenge that major modifications to basics such as suspension are not really necessary for what is effectively a road going tow car, with the potential to do a few events.  Building an out and out  race car is not what was asked for and certainly not what I wanted, but as someone with zero engineering and metalwork experience, I am always at the mercy of 'professionals'.

(Much later, the problems were found to be even worse and did not pass the certification process nor the eagle eye of an engineer who really does understand suspension design and who was appalled with what had been done.)

Bearing in mind the Marcos was first set up over 12 years ago and has never needed any suspension adjustment, then I suppose one has to ask why it is necessary to have a system with multiple adjustment options?


Three full days were then lost (not to mention the full cost of the the three days coming out of my by now, empty pockets) getting things back on track, hence a call to halt all further paid work.  There was much that I could do at minimal cost, so the car would have to be put on the original wheels and transported back home...


The court case regarding the new, but damaged Performance Wheels, filed November 2006 is scheduled to be heard in March 2007.

So January 2007 ended on a mix of high note (the back end was in...) and low note (the front end problems had swallowed the immediate budget). Just to make life difficult, a spell under the surgeon's knife January 31st put me on a more sedentary schedule for a week or two. 


It was always going to be a tough month for finance, so I made a more determined start on the wiring and did more on the centre module of the dashboard.  I repainted the revised front suspension, but only with POR15 Silver. I decided to overlook an application of the two pot top coat until the car is on its wheels and the front suspension has been tested.  When that time arrives, I'll also paint the shocks and springs, currently yellow, and these will probably be red - or maybe not...  A touch of yellow might look OK.   


Having ordered a decent kill switch way back in October/November from BNT, I finally lost patience and bought one from Berton Automotive, who had one on the shelf.   The easily available battery isolation switches normally fit in the main battery cable and are an effective method of turning off the battery, but they do not kill an  engine that is already running.  The purchased switch still fits into the main battery cable, but also switches off power to the coil, so killing the engine.  There are 4 additional terminals and these connect to the coil, to earth (via a resistor), the ignition switch and the main feed.   


Five and seven core trailer wiring cable is an easy way to link the cabin to the boot or engine bay and I just happened to have some five core cable around.  Threading two lengths of this cable from the boot, over the top of the doors and down the front screen pillar into the dash area was quite straightforward.  One cable had a bit of red heat shrink and the other a bit of green at the ends, and each inner cable had a small piece of heat shrink added to act as a 'tracer' colour to identify each cable. First colours in the table below are the main inner wires and the second are the tracers.



Wherever possible, the BSI standard wiring colours were used throughout the car, but obviously, in a scenario such as the above, it just wasn't possible.  NZ Standard trailer wiring colours also conflict, and that didn't help either.  The Green/white right turn is obviously correct, as is green/black for the fuel gauge.  When the trailer cable has to be joined in the dash area, where possible, it joins to a standard BSI/Lucas colour, so the brake light switch attached to the brake pedal, has the brown/white cable from the switch to the boot/lights, and a green/purple cable from the switch to the fuse.

Where possible, all units are individually fused as in my humble opinion, this makes fault finding easier.  When several items share the same fuse, it is not always easy to isolate the problem.  

Standard colours have changed slightly over the years too, as once upon a time, a blue/ white cable was always 'headlights', but with the addition of lighting relays, left and right headlamps may well have different coloured cables.  The other major change is that the main cable colours  now only have a tracer marking at the ends and this may be no more than a dab of paint, so ferreting inside a loom to find a specific cable is now much more difficult than is used to be.  This reduces the number of cable colours required, but marking them visibly with a tracer colour is not so easy.

It is not so long ago, that wiring relays became a standard fitment and this extra complication (to reduce the amount of current through a switch) means that today's wiring is a little bit more complicated - and expensive, even though some wire sizes can be reduced.

Wiring up relays has always been a bit of a mystery to me, and even now, automotive electricians may laugh at my lack of knowledge, but I have compiled a simplified diagram that may assist others based on the - fuel system so it may help in that area too...