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October 2008 dawned and it had been a very tough year due to family health problems that diverted time away from the project.  I found that as I drew up 'to do' lists, they just seemed to get longer!  The lack of practical daily time just extends the overall project, so if only an hour could be spared on a day, often, very little was achieved, but it did give the opportunity for extra thinking time.  The weeks flew by, so I decided to have a push to get the engine fired up, but this came at a time when Mal's attention was focussed on the preparation of cars for the Targa Rally starting October 27th and the massive MG meeting at Manfeild mid November.

Attention therefore drifted to the the 'To Do" list, and what needed to be done to get the engine fired up.

This was mainly centred around the electrics, the exhaust and oil. I had fitted the oil cooler pipes, but wasn't too happy with the retaining clips, so decided I had better take theme back to the specialists to fit them properly.  it turned out that they had supplied the wrong size, no wonder I couldn't fit them!  The oil pressure gauge was another issue.  Scottie at Fraser Cars had tapped a take off pipe into the blanking plug and I had fitted a pipe but to connect it to the gauge pipe, it needed stepping down.  The O/D of the gauge pipe was the same as the I/D of brake pipe I had used at the engine end, so the steel pipes needed joining, something that didn't require too much effort from Scotties crew.  I purchased oil from Mal, and a 5 litre container of Penrite 40W oil moved the oil level up to 'low' on the dipstick, so it needed more to fill the oil cooler, filter and pipes and bring the level up to normal.


The electrics were then the major area and although much had been planned, it was time and money to get to the fire up stage.  Locating and fitting the coil was straightforward but the wires from the distributor's electronic ignition unit needed to be shortened but that would be done after fire up. A new set of HT leads is a relatively hefty expense but unavoidable and the individual lengths were ordered.  Unfortunately, two or three were incorrectly supplied, so the shortening had to wait until after fire up.

Although only basic electrics are required to fire up an engine, I opted to work hard and try and finish as much of the the interior wiring as I could and although a fair bit had been completed, particularly the centre console panel, decisions had to be made as to the location of the various fuse boards and this took far longer than I had anticipated.  Why was it so difficult? Often, it was a case of recycling old lengths of wire stripped from older cars, as this was the best source of basically correct colours, so whenever possible, the colour codes used were the Lucas or BSI codes, familiar to most British car enthusiasts. Most enthusiasts with Japanese cars for example, bemoan the fact that there is no colour coding (accountants directive I presume...).  The joy of the Lucas system is that over the years, you get to learn many of the colour codes, so identifying the brake light cable as opposed to the indicator cable is easy and no reference manual or wiring diagram is required.  Obviously, building a car from scratch demands that most colours are required, but as this car has been wired up for two fuel pumps for example, then it was a case of using wires from the pile that wouldn't be used for their traditional purpose. 


The philosophy is fairly straightforward. The main one is that I would rather fuse individual items than have components sharing.  The Marcos, even with electric windows, only started off with about three fuses, (and no relays), the Mini with two and I gather the Ford Cortina didn't have any!  Anyone who has had a minor problem in a car so equipped, soon curses the accountant led philosophy of car manufacture, where one item has a problem and it not only knocks out several  others, but can also make fault finding a slow process.

To make life easier for reference and recording purposes, the various fuse boards had to be labelled A to E, as many hours were spent trying to develop a wiring spreadsheet, and that was the easiest method.  From right to left across the car, this is what I ended up with:

Block A:  8  x in line fuses from the steering column for all lights and screen washer (located to the right of the steering column) and just under the dash.  This was as per the original MG Montego wiring system I think, and was dictated by the use of the Montego steering column and switch gear. Without extending the column wiring, the location of the fuses was therefore somewhat limited.  

Block B:  8 x fuses - Kill switch ON, Ignition OFF (located directly under steering column) includes most  relay feeds for pumps, horn, radiator fan etc.

Block C: 8 x Fuses - Kill Switch ON, Ignition ON (located under steering column, alongside Block B).  For components not operated by the centre console switches, such as brake lights, oil light, radio, Pektronic unit etc.

Block D: 10 x Fuses - kill Switch ON, Ignition ON  (left side of Centre Console) as per above picture.  This enabled the centre console removal complete with fuse board, but it would have been too crowded had the board been located to the right (the steering column side).

Block E: 6 x  Fuses - Kill Switch OFF, Ignition OFF (located on bulkhead)  This is the permanent live fuses for the Radio and CD settings, interior light, alarm, clock and cigar lighter socket etc.

The battery kill switch was mounted onto a  temporary bracket on the transmission tunnel, and the wires connected. 

A new battery was purchased, and the model was dictated by the height of the battery compartment in the boot.  Mike Barlow had made up an earth lead for me, and in my pile of bits, I found an old battery clamp terminal and soldered the positive cable. I had somehow acquired a tin of yellow epoxy spray paint (it must have been cheap...) so the battery retainer was given several coats, as the colour matched the battery itself.  

As you can imagine, my heart was in my mouth as I connected the battery for the first time!  No sparks, no smell of melting insulation and no smoke - a massive step forward! Only a few fuses had been fitted at this stage so tentatively turning on the kill switch, I once again held my breath, and two lights lit up on the dash!  Well at least something was working. However, at that point, with the ignition OFF, they shouldn't have been on... Somehow, I had either the wiring from the ignition switch wrong, or had connected to the wrong terminal.  I reconnected the offending wire at the ignition switch to a different terminal.  Lights went out.

With the Ignition switch back ON -

1)  Red Ignition warning light - ON - correct.

2)  Red Low fuel warning light - ON - correct.

That was a good start, I then accidentally flicked the starter switch instead of a fuel pump and engine turned, so that was another successful if accidental test! However, when it came to fuel pump number one, the yellow warning light worked, but the pump didn't. It only took a few seconds to confirm that there was power to the pump, and that the earth lead was connected to the pump mounting plate.  What I had overlooked was that Farnie had mounted the pump plate onto rubber bushes to minimise noise, so swapping the earth lead to a proper earth, then had the pump working.

Just one more check on that historic day was to test out the radiator fan as this was via an override switch.  Fuses in to the relay supply and to the switch, and the yellow fan warning light lit up and the fan whirred away.  Yes, it was sucking in air too and was surprisingly quiet, given that I had made all the mountings myself, so on that high, I packed up for the day, with a big grin on my face...

Returning the following day, I soon came back down to earth. Although the engine was turning, I couldn't get any oil pressure, but the distributor didn't seem to be seating too well either.  Nor could I remove the spark plugs as the socket I had used for 40 years, didn't fit!!!

I then connected the power input to the column to the permanently live fused board (E).  Straightaway, the hazard warning lamp on the column lit up  - but not for long, as five minutes later, it didn't light up...  However, the voltmeter checked that power was getting to the side light fuses but not the headlamp fuses, as that probably needed the headlamp relay fuses installing. 


One of the problems that had occupied my mind for several months was the poor state of the quarter-light rubbers and the horrific cost of replacing them. ($300 NZ - each.) Through one of the message-boards, I was pointed towards Devcon's Flexane 80 liquid urethane. At $180 for a 1lb (454 gram) tin, plus hardener, this wasn't cheap either (about the cost of caviar at a guess), but means that I should be able to mould the missing parts.  This material is able to be stretched 350% once it has cured but I'll be happy enough if it compresses to seal the windows! The instructions state that the material to hardener ratio is 77% to 23% by weight. Looks as though I'll need a calculator and an accurate set of scales in the garage... 

Exhaust System

Before the engine could be fired up for the first time, the exhaust system needed finishing so I loaded the car onto the trailer and dropped it off at Pitstop.  I explained that the car needed to be road legal and that meant a resonator and a muffler.  The guys down there were enthusiastic (I am always pleased when one of the fitters has race or rally experience!) and I collected the car the following day.  They fitted a short length of flexible pipe into the system at my request  and also added a cheap shiny trim to the tail pipe as it obviously looks smarter!

I don't know what happened next... I thought I had tied the car down well, but it moved forwards on the trailer and when I finally backed it into the garage, up a tricky drive, the radiator grille surround was hard up against the trailer...  Needless to say, it was a little bit second-hand, but not destroyed.

Having got that far, I bullied Mal Clark into setting a time to try and fire it up (Monday 24th November 2008, four and a half years to the day since I first picked up the car!) so I then  got stuck into some final checks.  With battery connected and fuel pump working, it was the fuel system that needed testing.  I only had about 4 litres of petrol - a mix of 100% race gas and unleaded pump fuel.  Ignition on, pump working, petrol eventually appeared in the  fuel filter.  Then petrol came spewing out of the top of carb number 2...  Its a through type and I hadn't realised!  The carbs had arrived with the engine and had been partially rebuilt, but there must have originally been a tank return (to prevent fuel getting warm I gather).  So, it needed some sort of fitting on the end of the system I didn't have anything suitable so using the delay of a wet and wild day, Sir Reggie adapted the top.   Rescheduled start up day moved to Wednesday November 26th...  Couldn't wait.  Stomach was on edge...