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MG Magnette V8 - "MON ZA8"

I just had to get stuck into the car as my original plan was to have the car done for my 60th birthday, but my 65th February 2011 was looming all too quickly!  Forcing the issue was the decision to revert to the steel wings but this still left the bonnet, boot (trunk) lid and the sill covers to be completed before the car could be deemed externally complete and that would mean going back to the fibreglassing whilst still putting the car back together. 


At the paintshop, all was progressing well.  Bays had removed the previously applied coat of grey primer and then sprayed on their own epoxy primer. With a cover coat in place over the mish-mash of metal, primer and my MG Magnette V8laughable attempts at applying filler, they could then apply a skim of filler and sand back, before another coat of filler primer (I assume!) and another sand and fill.

My anxiety levels started to rise at he thought of the damage to my wallet, but having got that far, taken so long and spent so much already, it really would have been silly to go for a nasty paint job.

The front wings here had been primed, sanded and filled, they now awaited sanding and another coat of primer.

Meanwhile, bays had welded in a plate to block off the now redundant original fuel filler and given the main shell a coat of primer. The new fuel filler recess can be seen to the right and we decided that when it came to the painting, the main bodyshell would be the BMW silver (to match my Mini Cooper S)and the top would be BMW Sapphire black, which is a black metallic. We discussed where the line would finish as there were several options. The join line would now be approximately half way down that rear panel.   Had the car been a ZB Varitone, it may well have been a car in two colours anyway, but by only doing the roof cap, my expectation is that the car would look more modern. MG Magnette V8

As most car painters make a living out of cars damaged on the roads, the spate of good weather meant that they weren't as busy as during the winter - although there were still one or two BMWs receiving attention - so initial progress was very rapid!

A few days later, the body was skimmed and sanded but Craig went in on the Saturday to paint the doors and wings.  Straight off the gun, the quality was just superb and I just got the impression that Craig had almost adopted the car!  His pride in his work was measurable and he was extremely concerned that I might damage HIS paint when I elected to transport two panels at once in the rear of the Freelander!  They arrived home OK.

 My next job was to make a start on reassembling the doors and I made a tentative start by fitting the rear qMG Magnette V8uarter window using some standard rubber available from the local non-automotive suppliers of rubber strips and they had a couple of profiles that I thought suitable. 

The sequence of reassembly was obviously a reverse of the dismantling so the digital photographs were a great reference source but as is often the case, manhandling the window channels and plastic window for door number one into place without scratching either the paint or the glass was a challenge I wasn't really relishing.   

DECEMBER 2010    

The remainder of the car (with the exception of fibreglass bonnet and boot lids which I still haven't made and the bumpers that I still haven't finished) was brought home December 15th.  Wow!  I think that the car was a bit reluctant to come home from Bays where it was obviously very contented, as it was a struggle to start it, needing Grant's battery booster. The left rear handbrake is still sticking on so that needs attention, but I managed to drive it onto the trailer which was perhaps as well as at the time my winch was or buried in the garage.

Although I had made a start reassembling the doors, the use of a fixed rear window in the rear doors progressed slowly and I did manage to manoeuvre the plastic/glass into place, but without using the correct inner channel (felt?), my plan for a simple manual lift and drop wasn't going to work at all.  The supplied window channel was wrong.  I ended up with the soft felt for an MGB.

The  correct reassembly sequence (without the window winding mechanism) is critical as I found out when I had to take it all apart and start again...

The simplified sequence is:

  1. Attach the striker swivels

  2. Attach the lock/opening mechanism and secure - lubricate first.

  3. Attach the exterior door handle

  4. Insert the quarter-light window and rubber

  5. Insert the rear window channel loosely

  6. Place the front window into the door but don't attach

  7. Insert the front window channel  but don't attach

  8. Fiddle the glass into position at the bottom of the channels

  9. Loosely line up the rear channel but note that the front channel has to go inside over the top at the front

  10. Securely locate and fix the rear channel

  11. Push the glass up to the top

  12. Secure the front channel

As an aside, I attached Rivnuts to the channels to make the securing a much simpler job - but this was only after slicing my hand on the exposed metal edges of the inside of the door!

The final assembly moved to the rear of the car such as the tow bar attachment and the revised trafficator plus LED repeater.

MG Magnette V8
MG Magnette V8

The  the modified rear lights were first on the list at the rear end and at the top, with a diversion to fitting the centrally mounted radio aerial at the centre front.  Hopefully the photograph will show how the rear indicator lights were incorporated the lamp holder.  It is a tight squeeze but it maintains the original look without the rather obvious bolt on afterthoughts.  The fit up to the bodyshell left a slight gap and no doubt there was originally a rubber gasket so this gap would have to be filled with a sealant but the lamp backing plates probably needed something other than a thin coat of zinc paint!  I acquired a damaged tyre inner tube from a  tyre supplier as it provides a very useful source of thin rubber that can be used as a gasket when refitting components. The original rubber has of course perished quite badly in most instances.

Inside the lower boot/trunk, there was a  bit of sealing to do in the corners and this was accomplished by metal plates that Farnie had initially cut but I added a rubber trim and used a small amount of grey gap sealant.  Whilst messing about in there, I noticed that I hadn't painted the underside of the rear parcel shelf with the POR 15.

Incidentally, looking at the picture below, I couldn't help referring back to what it looked like before... It rather put the six and a half year journey into perspective.


Although I had purchased some clip on rubber door seal, that couldn't really be fitted until after the headlining had been fitted.  That and the refitting of the front and rear screens would hopefully be the last major jobs outside of my own areas of expertise, other than painting the fibreglass panels of course.  Expertise?...

Some time ago, I started constructing a removable tool box for the boot and rather than the traditional jack, I felt that I would be  more likely to need the trolley jack if the car was going to be used for towing the Marcos and trailer.   The fibreglass rear bumper still needed some work as it seemed to be a little wonky!  The black is the towbar that sits inside it. To the right of the boot is the reverse parking warning system box.

Having decided to start at the rear of the car (mainly) one of the first jobs was to secure and tidy the wiring and also fit the trailer plug.  The original British method of joining wires was with Lucar connectors or bullet connectors. These were an excellent method (in my opinion) of joining two or more wires together and being able to take them apart and remove individual components without cutting wires is important.  I don't know of a modern equivalent so I raided my MG Magnette V8store of old wiring - and soon ran out of double connectors! 

 Where the trailer wiring joins the loom, I used electrical terminal blocks instead.  It probably looks a bit amateurish but it is quick and tidy.  The short length of wire with a bump on the end is the right sensor itself sitting loose.  This sits in a hole in the bumper/fender and is a small co-axial cable.  That needed cutting and a plug and socket soldering on so that the sensor could be fitted later. I used a commercial audio plug and socket and as this is underneath the car and a bit exposed to weather, when finally connected, it would be protected with some electrical heat shrink (wonderful stuff!). 

The sequence is normally to fit the rear doors, followed by the front doors then the wings as the wings have more adjustment possibilities than the doors. The right rear door was first as I don't think it will need the door pocket but even at this stage, the window inner channels hadn't been sourced and the intention was to fix the rear window anyway.  This could be managed with the door fitted rather than on the bench. 

MG Magnette

Amazing how some jobs frittered away an afternoon or two. 

I left the front door for a while as I needed to finalise the wiring for the headlight and also the old sidelights needed replacing as they would be indicator lamps.  I used early Mini headlamp units complete with a built in side lights as I already had a new set of the metal bowls and several complete Mini units but I purchased new lamps with modern Halogen bulbs.

My original intention was to use Mini indicator lights too, but the wing moulding for the original Magnette sidelight is quite small.  I rescued the original, very rusty and tatty units and had a good look. They were terrible!     Two afternoons were spent dismantling and restoring them with judicious use of reinforced fibreglass filler and some amateurish metal bending before replacing the old wiring.

 Needless to say, one of the springs escaped and disappeared to the land of Zog where all lost tools and small components go, so I had to cut down an old spring (am I the only one who dismantles all failed components to add to a stock of sundryMG Magnette bits and pieces?) to fit. 

The original Magnette sidelights are of course clear or show white, but having converted them and wired them up to act as indicators, or turn lamps, I preferred the amber to white which is more traditional these days.  Obviously, sourcing an amber lens wasn't a possibility so I reverted to a bit of lateral thinking.  I remembered that when model-making, Tamiya car kits produce clear plastic parts and they also do a clear amber paint! (X-26) I had some on the shelf so the inside of lenses were treated to two or three coats of clear amber paint.    

I also had to purchase a two way switch to operate the old semaphore trafficators and these needed their own wiring, as they obviously wouldn't work with the flashers.

If you remember from earlier, there were two 5 core trailer cables running down the pillar, taking the feeds from dashboard to the boot area. This meant additional cables from both the door pillars to the dashboard. A tip here. It may pay to use 7 core trailer cable!  Obviously, at the top of door pillar, the cable insulation is carefully removed and the two turn wires are isolated and wires spliced into them. Using the traditional BS colour coding, that means a length of green/white to the right and a longer run of green/red to the left.  (My logic would always have been green/Red to the Right...)  The left hand wire from the LED repeater was  already taken across the roof to join the loom so the new trafficator cable was taped to it.  The Magnette, like most cars has space for wiring to run down the front door pillar and a length of welding rod with a wire taped to it made it an easy job to run both trafficator wires down the right hand pillar to the under dash area - which was looking a bit like a jungle with so many wires. 

I then opted to hang the driver's door as the location of the front wing meant that I needed to bolt the support panels in place before setting the front wing. The door didn't seem to sit correctly but it had to do for the time being.  I also returned to the location of the screen-wash reservoir as I wanted this in the cavity to the rear of the wing and once settled, the wiring, the tubes to washer jets and also the filling tube needed sorting.  Once again, small hiccups.  I had unearthed some screen jets, but they had different sized tube fittings! I couldn't find a Y piece to join the tubes either. Initially, I was planning on using using an MG Metro reservoir and pumps but it was a fraction too big for the cavity. A commercial 2 litre plastic water bottle (free!) was the next choice and a remote pump that I just happened to have lying around seemed to be ideal. I just had to sort out the wiring and the pump location and route the washer tubes...