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BLOG MY RIDE: Rally MG Maestro 1600 - Car B

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  • #31
    The Rally Sprint cars have black roll cages with a diagonal brace as detailed here on 23rd October 2011, 14:28:
    Austin Rover "Rally Sprint" Rally Drivers v Grand Prix Drivers.

    My 3 cars have the black roll cages but no diagonal brace on the rollcage's rear sector, and my cages appear to extend much further rearwards. They reach down to the rear arches and are visible by looking through the glass quarter panels, whereas the Rally Sprint cages are visible by looking through the rear door windows.

    I have 1 theory as to why this might have come to pass. The roll cage fitted for the race might have been either a 'half-cage' or 'modular', and this was subsequently replaced with a more comprehensive cage when the cars were rebuilt for rallyschool use (e.g. bucket seats & hyd handbrake fitted, interior removed, repainted etc.).

    The other thing I noticed is that photos of the Rally Sprint Maestros show that both front and rear doors had no rubbing strips on them (black plastic). My Maestros have no rubbing strips on the front doors (where they displayed a 'door number' when in MITHRIL RACING livery). This may be because either:
    a) The cars were restored to road spec after the race (several had substantial panel damage)
    b) The doors were replaced during the cars' time at MITHRIL (due to rust or damage). As detailed elsewhere in this thread, we know that several doors were definitely replaced with those from a later model of car.

    If either of the white cars have evidence of a replacement front passenger door then this would indicate that it was Tony Ponds (his door was heavily damaged during the race). Equally, if the silver Maestro has evidence of a repaired front end then this would indicate that it was Stig Blomqvists' car.
    Last edited by John C; 20th November 2011, 18:25.


    • #32
      Originally posted by John C View Post
      has anyone got any ideas why there would be a 2nd white car? I can only think that either:
      a) one was a spare car held in reserve
      b) it was repainted to another colour for the race e.g. John Watson is seen racing a black car on the video
      The Autosport magazine (10 Nov '83) article on the race states:
      "Sullivan was the first to return with oil spraying all over the engine but there was a spare car and he continued."

      Therefore, my 2nd white car was probably Sullivan's original car which he then swapped for the silver car that appears on the TV footage, and the only white car remaining in the race was Tony Pond's (seen on the video).
      Last edited by John C; 16th November 2011, 19:12.


      • #33
        Spoke to Graham on Friday and we discussed buying another engine I've been offered, as he believes the timing chain will break on this engine eventually.

        One option would be to remove the head, see what's causing the low compression and then re-fit the head so that the car's ready for its next event. We would then know what's wrong with this engine and could make a decision on whether to buy this other engine (and the only cost would be a another head gasket for £20ish).

        However, I want to keep 1 car in working order at any 1 time and the next event is approx 21 Jan 12 so we agreed that we will leave the engine intact for the mo (so that this car will definitely be ready for mid Jan) and concentrate on finishing the fuel pump issue (get it replaced under warranty and fabricate an alu cover for the spare wheel well where the pump's located). When one of the other car's is ready, we can then look at taking the Maestro off the road for long enough to do an engine rebuild.

        Had a chat with Nick Stafford (ex Austin Rover mechanic) and his advice is as follows:

        Consider getting an MSA Technical Officer (the highest level within the MSA) at £36 for a visit (a scrutineer may only charge for mileage but the TO's advice will be definitive) to inspect the car for compliance with modern scrutineering regs, and confirm it complies in writing.

        It will take 1 hr to take the head off

        You could then tip the head on its side and pour some brake cleaner down the ports and see if any leak.

        Getting the engine out of a Maestro is quite hard work (harder than a Sierra or Capri because it's transvers and it is hampered by the suspension) -would take a mechanic at least 4 hours.

        Crank grind and shells £80-90
        Pistons £100
        Crosshatch and Hone £30-35
        New piston rings £45/set (might not need rings)
        Head gasket and seals £18
        Timing chain £18
        Tensioner £8-12
        Guides won't need replacing unless they're broken (unlikely)

        Likely to be about £200-250 to rebuild it.

        The VW gearbox is a nightmare to get in/out while the engine is in situ, so if the engine is out then it's worth sending the box away to be rebuilt (probably £160?) out at the same time.

        The car's historic value will be halved if it has a non-original engine in it. Nick would be willing to take back the Maestro engine that's out of the car at Rockingham (possibly by getting it sent up on a pallet, or even by putting it in the Escort when he collects it)

        Last edited by John C; 20th November 2011, 16:45.


        • #34
          The blue jobs are those that do need to be done before the car's next outing (Aldershot forest test day on approx 21 Jan 12); the rest of the jobs can be done as & when there's time in due course...

          -See if replacement Fuel pump cures the petrol leak
          -Consider replacing the rubber fuel hose with copper or braided
          -Add Valvemaster to the fuel currently in the tank
          -Investigate rough running issue (probably a misfire). Consider replacing HT leads and/or distributor cap/rotor arm. It may be caused/exacerbated by the slack in the timing chain (which may also be a factor in the 'low-compression' problem)
          -Check timing with a light to ensure itís OK for 95 Octane unleaded (or adjust as required for a Maestroís normal diet of 97 Octane 4 Star).
          -Set carbs up & balance on Rolling Road
          -Fit an Alu sheet over the top of the spare wheel well (to cover up fuel pump).
          -Repeat the compresstion test (this time with the throttle held fully open), and note each cylinder's reading
          -Put oil down bores and re-check the compression (to see it it is the valves that are leaking). An engine's compression is normally about 10:1 so any car ought to give about 150psi (but Chris has not yet checked in the manual what it should be).
          -Do a cylinder leak test (I'm told that a cylinder leakage test is a far more accurate way of measuring losses, and will tell you if the problem is 'cyl head gasket' or 'piston' related, or if it's not leaking down that badly after all.
          -Put an oil flush product in and then change oil to a suitable classic motorsport oil (I have mail ordered this to CR at CEME)
          -Put the AMETECH 'ENGINE RESTORE' product into the oil (hoping to monitor the effect of this long term e.g. on compression readings in months to come)

          -Label the fuel pump "on/off"
          -Raise the rear window (it is 1" open on one side). N.B. The winder appears to be disconnected and the glass won't slide when pushed up.
          -Investigate the 'pull to the left' under engine braking (if you accelerate hard and then come abruptly off the gas it does it)
          -N/S rear cylinder was stuck (now freed off), but could do with a new cylinder in due course.
          -Rear brake shoe Linings starting to come off on one side; OK for one more event, but need to replace it thereafter (and both sides will be changed to ensure there isnít a braking imbalance).
          -Needs some Welding around rear arches (fairly minimal though). Itís not on a stress point or the suspension mounting etc. so should be OK for another event.
          -Re-affix the rear spoiler (black rubber) on the boot where it has come adrift on the bottom LHS
          -Replace the light clusters at the rear (and also at the front)?
          -Tidy up the loose wiring hanging down beneath the front air dam
          -See if elec dash can be made to work
          Last edited by John C; 1st December 2011, 17:53.


          • #35
            I visited CLASS RACING again last week and washed the car. Having washed the Maestro, I noticed that the roof was starting to have pinprick rust spots, so I've supplied a new cover from Halfords for whenever it's outside.

            I had a few problems starting it up. It got going eventually but sounds rather rough and was cutting out when I pressed the throttle.

            I was there for 2-3 hours and put 90% of the decals on the car. It's looking pretty good now -just 2 bonnet decals to go now which I hope to do on Fri.

            The only problem with decals is that they will need to be covered up for Gymkhanas, but they could be painted over with white water soluble paint (which will then wash off) or covered up with white vinyl squares (the non adhesive type) affixed with white insulation tape.

            A Gymkhana also needs an MOT, but this can be solved as below. If so, this means that the likes of Butho can drive it to events (at least until he can pass his DVLA Trailer Test). If the Maestro's lights are blanked off/taped over then it should get through but with ADVISORIES saying 'for Daytime use only' according to this thread (which you will need to register on the forum to be able to read):
            Anyone come across a "Daytime only MOT"

            I spotted a head gasket for an MG Maestro 1600 on eBay for £8 inc delivery so I've mail ordered this through to CR (just so that they have one to hand in time for the car's next outing 20 Jan 12, in case they want to remove the head to see what's going on inside the engine)

            I'm back there again on Fri 9 Dec (press event), and Chris is hoping to do more on the car after this event.

            This show might be interested in having the Maestro in the display hall or on the demo Rally Stage (but you can't do both)

            I may also see if these mags are interested in doing something on it in due course:


            • #36
              Just spoken to Nick and his latest advice was as follows:
              -Loose Timing chains sound a lot worse than they are. They might make a din rattling on the metal cover but the amount of slack is probably quite small. It might be possible to fabricate a wedge to tension it up again.
              -The loose timing chain will give 'variable valve timing' and this may in fact enhance power by advancing the timing
              -By removing the rocker cover one could check how many degrees of slack the chain has, and take a view from there
              -The engine's low compression readings may not be too far off given that the Comp Test was done without a wide-open throttle, the engine will be somewhat worn, and it is of 1970s design (modern engines have far higher compression than mills from this era)
              -The engine starts straight away, responds crisply, revs up and produces decent power so it can't be too badly worn/off-song
              -A full assessment of the engine will be needed before coming to any conclusions about its state or faults; we do not have the full info on it yet.
              -Best advice is to just keep on using this engine until it stops working/goes bang and then rebuild/replace it
              Last edited by John C; 4th December 2011, 22:06.


              • #37
                The latest update from Chris is that the faulty Elec fuel pump has been replaced with another one but the unions are weeping so they will be reconnected after wrapping with PTFE tape. A fuel pressure regulator has also a been installed (set to 3psi).

                The oil will be flushed & changed next week (and additive put in).


                • #38
                  Here are the latest photos of the car:

                  The decals are nearly all sourced from eBay and are intended to broadly create 'period livery', but not necessarily replicate exactly any particular car from the early 80s.


                  • #39
                    I need to check what fuel line is in the car as the braided rubber-lined stuff often leaves a residual smell (either of petrol or of the pipe itself) inside the cabin apparently. Other types of braided fuel hose don't do this and so should be used instead, according to this thread:

                    Braided fuel hose, what type is required


                    • #40
                      Aeroquip has always done this - the Rover SD1 stinks of petrol smells till its running. Works TR8s were just the same.


                      • #41
                        i.e. the Aeroquip hoses have always smelt of petrol?


                        • #42
                          Chris & Rob report that:
                          Fuel pump is no longer leaking (PTFE tape sealed the threads)
                          Oil has been changed (now got competition stuff in)
                          Engine oil additive has been put in -didn't make much difference (but it's
                          Compression test repeated (the throttle was held wide open)

                          Cyl 1 2 3 4

                          Bar 8 8.5 4.5 6.0 [original oil]
                          Bar* 7 6.1 4.1 6.3 [motorsport oil & additive]
                          -13% -28% -8% +20% [% change ]

                          Psi 116 123 65 87 [original oil]
                          Psi 102 88 60 91 [motorsport oil & additive]

                          *For the first compression test engine was cold. Before the 2nd test was done the car was run for 15mins then stopped engine for 1 hr. The engine felt only slightly warm to the touch by the time that the 2nd compression test was done

                          -NSF wheel bearing has a lot of play in it so it will be changed tomorrow hopefully (has got the new wheel bearing ready to fit) -will see if this fixes the play.
                          -The OSF bearing had a bit of play in it so this might need changing some time soon.
                          -Can the bearings be tightened up with the castle nuts? -the older type could be because they had a split bearing? It looks like the driveshaft is meant to have a bearing on it.
                          [Can't chk the balljoints too accurately till the play in the wheels is sorted out]. Hopefully the above will stop the car veering to the left when you come sharply off the gas at high revs.
                          -Noticed that the plugs get wet quite quickly. This might be if the bores are worn and oil comes up from the sump onto the plugs. However, it might be because the engine isn't getting warm when it's just running for a few minutes at a time in the workshop.
                          -The Sump guard (currently in the back store) will be refitted in time for the car's next outing (Fri 20 Jan)
                          -More jobs will be done on it next week.
                          Last edited by John C; 5th January 2012, 18:42.


                          • #43
                            I've just had a call from Graham of Class Racing with the following update:

                            We have now done the engine's static & dynamic timing.
                            The car was running very, very rich after its carb rebuild but now adjusted on a Krypton tuning station. Couldn’t get the exhaust hydrocarbons in range –possibly caused by valve timing being slightly out (due to a very loose/worn/rattly timing chain) at tickover.

                            The Tickover's still slightly rough but it's running smoothly at mid and high range (the rough running problem is now ONLY noticeable at tickover). It sounds good and runs crisply at mid and high revs. This is probably as good as the engine can be got without rebuilding it, and it might go on like this for years.

                            Tried new wheel bearing on MG Maestro but the hub flange is too worn and so the wheel still wobbles.

                            We're really struggling to find anywhere that can sell a Maestro front hub flange.

                            The bearing appears to be the same part number as the MGTF bearing. We think that the Maestro has the same hub as the Metro or MGTF. We have an MGTF outside and so can take a wheel off it to have a look at it but we can’t take hub off to try it without destroying the bearing (it's an interference fit).
                            We could reassemble the Maestro with the old hub flange but the bearing won't last long.
                            Last edited by John C; 12th January 2012, 17:24.


                            • #44
                              The single piece bearing Meastro flanges are the same as the MGF/TF (hubs are obviously different) - the twin bearing flanges are different.

                              I have a used single piece bearing flange (or two, possibly) sitting in my garage. The face of the shoulder may be slightly worn, as it was fitted to a twin bearing hub.
                              MG ZR, anthracite - sold & gone
                              MG Maestro 1600 1.8 S-series track car - will be made road legal for track days
                              Montego Turbo - in need of welding to osr arch
                              Maestro 1600 VDP - daily drive


                              • #45
                                Thanks to Ross H & Ralph G for the offer of hubs; i got one from the former and its now sortd out, and the wheel bearing replaced (both on left).
                                I visited the Class Racing boyos on Thurs pm and they had done a great job getting the car fettled and ready. It has had a steel panel fabricated to covr over the spare wheel well to seal in the elec fuel pump (still needs rubber or silicone sealant to get a better fuel proof seal if poss