County Cast Iron Cylinder Head Warning

Before you go "oh crap", is Hap about to tell it's junk, no not harldy, it doesn have it's shortcomings, no aftermaket head that I've ever seen, cast iron or aluminum has as nice of casting as a stock MG cylinder head, and these heads are no different, this one I working with now, it had to be pocket ported to just get it back to the bowl ID of a stock head, and they tend to be a little more lumpy and bumpy in the ports in general than a stock MG head. No what I'm about to tell you about could cause a little stress, a few curse words and a little bit of work if it happen to you, like it did me. On the back left side of all MGB cylinder heads is a brass plug, this plug closes up a hole that was drilled in the head during manufactuering that intersects another drilling that take oil passage from the the block up to your rear rocker arm pedestal for oiling the rocker arm assembly, valve spring and such, the only oil the cylinder head gets bascily. Ok, as mentioned in stock MGB head they use a brass plug, to plug this hole. On the County heads it turns out they threaded the hole and use a set screw, of course it well covered up wth excess paint and such and nothing you would ever expect to be a problem later, but something you may want to pay closer attention to this, as I found out.

I rebuilt a MGB engine for a customer, and it was installed by the customer's mechanic. The mechanic called me and told me the engine was leaking form the rear and we all just assumed it was the rear seal, even though the uprated viton seal was used, I didn't use a speedi sleeve, because the rear crank hub looked perfect. Anyway I decided to go up to the Charlotte, NC area and trailer the car back here, and address this at my buddy's shop where we could get it up on the lift, I had already planned on it being the rear seal, had a new seal and speedy sleeve on hand. Well with the car up on the, lift, it was for sure a leaking at the rear, the bottom of the rear scetion of the engine was wet with fresh motor oil, so we started investigating, the first clue that this was not rear seal leak was the inspection hole on the rear engine plate, I could stick my finger in there and it was dry as a bone. At this point we started looking upward on the block and sure enough I could see a trial of oil dribbling down the block from upward, now the two plugs on that side of the block and lifter covers were dry as a bone, so that was not it, it was coming from further upward. A little more looking with the car back on the ground showed a puddle of oil collecting at the rear of the cylinder head where the block and the head join each other. We wiped the area dry, and cranked the engine, and sure enough about 2 seconds we got a squirt of oil from the back side of the cylinder head, at this point we knew the cylinder head had to come off to investigate this further. Once the cylinder head was off, that's when we discovered the the new replacment cylinder heads had the set screw, not a brass plug, and that's where the leak was coming from, it was loose and and had no sort of sealer on the threads when removed, Ok we now had the smoking gun. I clean and de-greased the area, and used expoxy to seal tghe threads of the plug and reinstalled it, and put everything back together, let it sat a few days day, recrank the engine and had no more oil leak.

This is somehwere you would never expect a oil leak from, but these cars never cease to educate us, and this is where actually installing and working with these parts far excells the education over just selling theses parts. I will be calling the wholesale vendor that sells us these heads today to make they are aware of this, because without feedback like this, the vendor would never know of a possible issue. it obviously doesn't not happen on every County cast iron replacment cylinder head, but we know one thing for sure now, it can happen and the set screw needs to be checked and made sure it is sealed and tight.

I probably worked with a couple of dozen of these cylinder heads over 6-7 year period and this is the first I've seen of this, but something that is so easy to check with the head on the bench and not so easy to fix with the head on the car, you could fix this on the car, knowing what I know now, but we didn't know what we were dealing with, so we removed the cylinder head. Bottom line, check this before installation and your life will/could be a bit easier.

Wing Rear Repairs

wing repair
wing repair
wing repair
wing repair
wing repair
wing repair
wing repair
wing repair
wing repair

During a restoration of the car, the front wings and a portion of the rear wings were removed to repair the sills. The dogleg section, the area behind the door, below the trim strip, and forward of the wheel was cut out to install the sills. The material removed for the sill replacement will determine the method used to install the wing repair panel in that dogleg area. The best option was to leave a least 3/4 inch of metal below and behind the door opening.

Tools and equipment used to complete the work were a air body saw, air chisel, angle grinder with 36 and 50 grit disks, rotary tool with carbide cutting tip (Dremel), air hole punch/flanger, big hammer, tape measure, vise grips, c clamps, clecko, MiG welder, auto darkening helmet, safety glasses, gloves, ear protection, and dusk mask.

 

Before cutting any metal, take a pen, paper, and measuring tape, and record measurements. Take measurements of the door opening, the distance of the edge of the wheel well to the trim line edge, the depth of the wheel well, and other points that will be beneficial for reference when fitting and welding.

 

There are two fitting methods butt or flange that can be used when installing the repair panel. The butt method the repair panel is cut to fit where the edges of the panels will butt against each other without overlap. This method requires precise cutting and fitting. The butt method done correctly will blend new pieces with the old and finished will look like an original panel. The flange method is where a panel edge is formed to fit under or over another panel providing a flat flush fit. The flange can be pressed into the repair panel or the area surrounding the repair panel. The flanging method is more forgiving with measurements because the overlapping flange. When repairing the rear quarter lower half one or both the panel fit methods can be used.

 

The repair was started by deciding how much of the lower half of the wing was to be replaced. In many cases, the area behind the wheel to the tail lamp is not rusted and does not need replaced. A bit of work can be saved by not replacing the complete lower half. As they say across the pond, offer the repair panel up to the wing to observe the panel's fit. Use a marker and draw the rough cut lines on the car's wing. Drawn a line across the wing using the bottom of the trim as a guide or if the trim piece is removed estimate the bottom edge. Mark a line 3/4 inch behind and below the door following the contour of the door opening. This area can be flanged for the fitting of the repair panel. If the rear of wing is in good condition, mark the wing where the repair panel will end.

 

Removing the old lower wing. When replacing the entire lower half wing locate the wing valance seam and drill out the spot welds, below the trim line grind the edges tail lamp, clean up with hammer and chisel, and cut the seam below the tail lamp. Drill the spot welds in the wheel well and wing edge. Using a air body saw or angle grinder with a cutoff wheel, cut the wing along the marker lines.

Preparing the repair panel. You just cut a big hole in the side of your car, now you are committed to finishing the job. This is when fitting and measuring will be repeated until the repair panel is trimmed and flanged to match the body. On the 67B, the front end of the panel where it meets the sill is folded flat. The repair panel will have this edge folded at 90 degree angle. The end will need to be folded over or trimmed for the leading edge of the panel to lay flat with the sill. Offer the panel to the car and clamp the wheel well edge to the outer wheel arch and along the sill bottom. The front lower portion that covers the sill should have a gap between the sill and the end of the dogleg. Check the fit at the tail lamp if replacing entire lower half. Adjust the repair panel for best all around fit. The repair panel will need to be trimmed to fit at the top and door. Mark the repair panel for cutting leaving 1/2 - 3/4 extra metal on the edges for fitting and if using flanges. Remember how much you paid for this piece. Measure 3 or 4 times and if needed cutting twice is much better that cutting it to short. Cut the repair panel with a air body saw or angle grinder with cutoff disk. Offer the panel for fitting again. Be careful not to fold or bend because the supporting panel edges have been removed. Trim again if required. Using a hand tool or an air punch/flanger, a flange is made in the repair panel. The flange will fit under the wing along the top and at the door!!!!! Again, offer the panel for fit. The flange will allow the repair panel and wing to set even to the other. Set the panel for welding with cleckos, screws, vise grips, C clamps, and/or magnets.

The repair panel is ready to be welded. Using a MIG welder with gas shielding, proper setting for heat, and wire speed, tack the repair panel in place. Continue welding the panel with short welds of about 1/2 inch length. A longer weld will risk overheating the metal and warp the new panel. Space the welds about the repair and continue welding with taking an occasional break to allow the panel to cool until the all the welds are joined. Grind the welds level to the panel with an angle grinder fitted with a 50 grit disk.

If the job went well there will be very little glaze filler used to smooth the panel imperfections. Locate and drill the holes for the trim piece. Prepare for primer and paint.

Floor Pan Replacement

floor
floor
floor
floor
floor
floor
floor
floor

Floors LH and RH were rust damaged and required replacing. The floors were replaced one side at a time after the sills were repaired. Replacement floors were sourced at a swap meet. The price was right for the Steelcraft 62-67 lefthand and righthand floors and no shipping. Tools used for the task were an air chisel, air body saw, angle grinder with 36 and 50 grit disks, dremel with a oval shaped carbide bit, hammer, chisel, drill, air flange/hole punch, and MiG welder. Always wear the safety equipment like gloves, eye and hearing protection. The floors or what were left of them had been removed as the sill work proceeded on each side of the car. The top of the floor was marked as to which sections can be cut out with the air saw. The remaining pieces were removed by grinding down the spot welds with the dremel tool and using the air chisel to separate the spot welds. Once the floor is removed clean the surfaces with the angle grinder. Care was must be taken to save the edge on the side member, gearbox tunnel, and rear deck that the new floor panel will have ample surface area for attachment. Another area to be careful when cutting out the rusted floor is at the cross member and inner member. When the floor is removed areas under the panel, such as the cross member, can be cleaned and coated with a rust preventative paint. The Steelcraft 62-67 floors do not come with the fittings attached such as the captive nuts for the seats, studs for wiring, fuel, and brake lines clamps. Holes needed to be cut for the drain plugs and the scuttle plates added to keep that original concours appearance. The floors are made with extra material that extends up the side member and gearbox tunnel. This material was trimmed off and the floor pan was flanged along the edges. Holes were punched or drilled in the floor pan an inch to inch and a half apart To weld the new floor in place. A weight was used to help hold the floor tight while plug welding. The entire bottom of the car was cleaned to bare metal and coated with epoxy primer. A color tinted truck bed liner was sprayed over the epoxy primer to finish the chassis.

Reference: MGB Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration by Lindsay Porter, Middlebank UK Coachwork, Floors