Jan 18, 2003
After a long and arduous Ebay process, I finally get to examine Jellybaby. I'm looking mainly for body rot; I figure I can handle mechanical things, but I don't want to get involved with bodywork.

Body looks great; so does the interior. Checked usual rot places (read about a dozen books on MG restoration and such for help) and things looks good.

That's the good news. Bad news is that we couldn't get her started. PO said that Jelly is "winterized" every winter and hasn't been "summerized" yet.

I would've preferred it if we could've gotten the motor started (but it cranked strong), but like I said, I think I can handle mechanical issues should there be any. Body and interior are in great shape, engine bay looks cared for. I'll take it!

Now begins the wait -- PO will have her mechanic "summerize" the car. I'll arrange to have it shipped to Katy (just outside of Houston).

Jan 28, 2003
First setback. Hauler went yesterday to collect car; unfortunately, it still hasn't been summerized and is not drivable. Hauler couldn't collect car. Spoke to PO; her mechanic's on vacation and hasn't been able to tend to car. Asked shipper to use a tilt-back flat bed and winch and pick up car as non-runnable. Costs more. Probably should have done this anyway.

Jan 31, 2003
Second setback. Out of town all week, called hauler Friday ... they said winch truck is on the way today to collect car. Call my son and ask him to stick around the house after school to receive car (I won't get back till late.)
It's now late; I'm home; no car. Too late to call anyone, no messages on my phone. Will go by hauler's office tomorrow morning.

Feb 1, 2003
Visit hauler; closed on weekends. Oh well; will wait till Monday to find out what's happened.

In the meantime, am receiving lots of bits and pieces ordered through Ebay. Receiving SU carbs (will use for practice rebuilding and such), books, manuals, etc.

Got some nice news -- was digging through my toolbox and found an SU toolkit and a Unisyn balancer (fits on air intakes, rising ball shows airflow) that I had forgotten I had. About 25 years ago, I had an MGB-GT (till my then-wife totalled it) and had bought these tools for tinkering. Glad to find them still around!

Thought I'd list some of the books I'm using; like I said, I'm not too mechanically experienced. I'm having to do a lot of reading to learn; I'm also finding that different books add bits of missing information. It seems that five books gives a more complete picture than a single book or manual.

I travel a lot in my work; I normally scout out used bookstores when I'm out of town. I've picked up most of my manuals at these bookstores for less than $10 each -- usually around $5 or so. Some of the books I'm using are:

Chilton's Repair and Tune Up Guide for the MG (including Midget and Sprite)
Glenn's MG-Morris-Magnette Repair and Tune Up Guide (inc Midget)
Step by Step MG Midget & Austin Healey Sprite Service Guide and Owner's Manual
Sprite Midget Workshop Manual (Leyland)
The Complete Official 1275cc Sprite/Midget (driver's handbook, workshop manual, emission control suppliment) (Bentley)
Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration MGB
Haynes MG Midget / Austin-Healey Sprite 1958 thru 1980
Chilton's Import Car Workshop Manual (Big hardcover, covers many makes and models)
"Classic Cars" MGB Owner's Survival Manual (Excellent!Most books assume you don't make mistakes; this one tells you what to do when you screw up!)
Chilton's Repair and Tune Up Gide MG 1961 to 1980
Autobooks Sprite Midget Owners Workshop Manual
Haynes Resoration Manual MGB
Illustrated MG Buyer's Guide
Hanes Mini '69 to '82

I've also found the catalogs from Victoria-British and Moss Motors to be very helpful. Their websites (especially Moss Motors) also offer information. Be sure and check out Mini Mania's site, too -- they also have loads of good technical documents.

Feb 3, 2003
Visited car hauler; turns out second truck couldn't fit either. They're again looking for a small, one-car, tilt-top flatbed tow truck with a winch to do the haul. They mention I don't need to be home; they'll just park it in the driveway.

That helps me -- I've got some travel coming up soon, so this makes it a bit easier.

Feb 6 & 7
PO calls; she's found someone local to her who will haul the Sprite up to my house. Call and check with my shipper; they still haven't found anyone to haul the car and don't know when they might do so. Cancel the shipping order with them, call PO's guy. He's ready to haul it today! Agree to his terms (pretty good) and start clearing away stuff to make room for the Sprite!

Later today
It's here! It's here! Hauler backed it up in my driveway and we winched it down. Need to clear a spot in the garage (almost finished cleaning it).

Try to start it -- nope. It turns strong, but doesn't fire. Need to pick up some ether at the store.

Feb 8
Remove air filters and spray ether into the carbs. Fires right up -- and then dies as the ether runs out. Okay, that suggests that my spark and electronics are okay -- perhaps there's an issue in the fuel flow. Could be fuel pump (I did hear it ticking), filter, dirt in the line, dirty carbs, etc. I'm planning on replacing the fuel pump with a solid state one, anyway. No time to play right now, though - wife has errands already planned for me to do.

Feb 18
Been travelling like crazy -- finally get a chance to play with the car. I'm wondering if the issue is just that it hasn't run in a long time -- maybe I need to "prime" the pump. My son turns the key while I spray ether in the carbs -- it's firing up, but not sustaining it on it's own. Keep spraying ether to keep it running -- after about a minute of this, car begins running strong on it's own. I guess I just needed to get the fuel flowing.
Uhh ... time to take it for a spin! Still running good. Back it down driveway; clutch feels tight. Have to press pedal all the way to floor, then it engages after releasing about an inch or so. Don't know if this is normal; I don't think it can be adjusted, though. In any case, clutch is working and isn't making any noises.
Quick run around the neighborhood -- runs and shifts great! Brakes are a little iffy -- have to press them all the way to floor and still don't have strong braking. Okay, put brakes on the list of things to look at.
Hood pops up while driving and hitting bumps. Safety catch keeps it from flying open, but don't want it popping loose like that. Bonnet release and catch on the list.

Feb 19
Car sat all night; try to start it. Takes several tries and almost fires before it starts firing (but only on one or two cylinders). Pump it awhile and all four finally kick in. Why only some cylinders? Electronic ignition and stronger coil on the list; plugs and wires, too. Probably other things to check, need to take a look at the manuals.
Check out bonnet release -- it's pretty tough to pull and push back in. Lubricate it -- it now moves freely. Check out bonnet catch on hood. Seems to stick -- lubricate it. Test drive -- bonnet still pops open. Take a look at the cup -- unscrew it, work lubricant in, jiggle it around, screw it back in. Lubricate the male pin portion that sticks in the cup. Also lubricate safety catch. Test drive -- bonnet seems to stay now. Drive around and look for bumps -- bonnet still okay.
However, bonnet is missing the "bumper's" on the left and right sides. This means bonnet is basically sitting on a single point (the cup in the middle); it wobble some because of this. Put "get replacement bumper" on the list -- this would have bonnet resting on three points instead of one, should stop wobbling. I suspect the bumpers (or buffers) put some upward pressure on the pin and cup, making it harder for it to pop loose.
Plan to take a look at the brake pads and linings later today.


Aug 3

Aren't those little dots called ellipses, or something like that? Anyway, they mean some time has passed! No duh, it's several months later and I've done a few little things to get Jellybaby (who is now known as the Baby Car) happier!

First, I was travelling quite heavy in the spring, so Jellybaby sat in the garage till early June! My main concern at that time was the iffy firing -- so I added a higher-power coil, splitfire plugs. Also added a second "rubber bumper" to the front bonnet. That solved the hood popping loose problem.

New plugs and hot coil have Jelly firing on all four now. Spent some time with a Lindsey Porter book and my Unisym to balance out the carbs. I think I've got them close, although I'm running a little rich on cylinders 3 and 4 (plugs look pretty black.) Tried the "lift carb cylinder and listen for motor speeding up" thing and can't seem to get it any closer. Will try one of those transparent spark plugs and see if that helps any.

Also took the grease gun and gave every nipple a good squirting. The nipple for the handbrake was the most trouble -- it's just kind of hanging there so there's nothing to push against when attaching the grease gun. Even worse when trying to remove it -- nothing to pull against, so it was very (VERY) difficult to remove the grease gun from the nipple fitting.

Adjusted rear brakes -- used the special square hole wrench. Was expecting screw to be difficult, but it turned very easy. Doesn't seem to be that smooth, thouh. Wheels turn freely for about 3/4 of the turn, then tighten up for 1/4, then are loose again for next 3/4. Can't quite figure this out, but after turning enough wheels are completely locked. Back off till they turn freely.

Check the front pads -- they look pretty much brand new. However, front wheels sound like they're rubbing when I turn them. Don't know how to adjust this; perhaps pads are the wrong size? Will compare them against new pads and see.

Tach doesn't work, but is still wired for postive earth even though care is wired negative. Remove tach (turns out it was easy to remove) and rewire it for negative (using directions found on web). No dice, still doesn't work. Perhaps it got fried from being wired inappropriately when Jelly was originally converted?I've got a spare tach off Ebay but my wife "saved" the box when it came in. No one's seen it since. Ordered a non-Sprite tach from JC Whitney -- I won't mount it permanent, but I do want to know my RPM .... especially since ...

the speedometer still isn't quite working. It kind of registers my high speed, but then doesn't come back down again for awhile. I'll be sitting at a stop sign with the speedo reading "30 mph". Fiddled with the speedo and discover the squared off end of the speedo cable is almost eaten away. Purchased replaced cable, but it's too big. Different cables listed for '67 and '68 -- since Jelly is a hybrid, I must need the other one.

My main problem right now is overheating. Jelly's gauge goes from 90 to 230. When I'm running, it hangs between 190 (midpoint) and 200. When I'm idling at a stoplight in the Texas summer heat, it almost pegs at 230! By the way, speaking of idling, I had adjusted the idle speed, but it idled very rough after running for a while. Reread and noticed I missed the part where it said "Adjust idle speed after motor has warmed up". Oops -- it does make a big difference!

I've got a downflow radiator. First, get a summer thermostat, supposed to open at 160, did the "hot pot of water" test and it opens at 185. Need to order a couple more and find one that works. Got some "Redline Water Wetter"; heard good things on the spridget boards. Also reduced coolant/water ratio from 50/50 to about 25/75. When idling in the sun, Jelly now peaks around 220 -- about 8 degrees cooler.

Plan to get an electric fan to see what that does. Things are okay when moving; I'm just real careful about getting caught in stop-and-go traffic. Also will beging looking for a place to do a radiator recore -- perhaps I can get 3 or 4 rows.