The winter weather has kept the Midget in the shed for a while so I thought I’d look at fitting the (allegedly) Frontline front suspension units. Initially the fixing bolts didn’t align but after a week of re-drilling holes, fabricating the lower arm mounts, fitting new 340lb springs and rerouting the brake lines I ended up removing them. They didn’t offer and negative camber gain and the callipers were so close to the dampers on full lock that it looked close to a MOT failure.
With just the 340lb springs fitted (purchased at the NEC from Rimmer Bros) it was time for a blast and the improvement over the stock worn springs was vast. The whole car felt more stable on the lumpy Norfolk roads but there is one thing that needs changing – the headlights appear to point skywards now that there is less sag at the front.
Withe the weather staying cold it was an opportunity to do an oil change but this was an oil change by removing the sump. I was surprised at the amount of debris that was left in the sump after draining the oil. A few pieces of very long human hair, some paper tissues and various bits of what I assume are hardened carbon deposits in semi circular shapes. A good clean out, then checking the conrod bolts and it was all bolted back together and new filter and oil fitted.
A quick trip to the garage to fill up the tank revealed a MPG figure that is worse than either of the Porsches – just 19.7MPG from a 1587cc engine. OK, there have been a lot of cold starts but the fuel map has been leaned out a lot so I was hoping for 30+ despite the enthusiastic driving.
Having sorted out the rear end I’ve been playing with the DTA ECU mapping lately. I’m still running a bit rich at low throttle openings and this is reflected in the high fuel consumption, although that also isn’t helped by the short trips and heavy acceleration. The acceleration is one area where it has improved and the rear end upgrades saw the 0-60 times drop from 8.1 to 7.4 seconds. After the last round of fettling with the ECU the 0-60 time is now a brisk 6.5 seconds
I’m not expecting any major improvements now until I splash out on a rolling road session. To clock a 6.5 sec run means I must be pushing out close to the 122bhp that the 4AGE engine used to deliver in the MR2 so any future gains will need more accurate measurement – namely a rolling road.
Having fitted the anti-tramp bars that made a huge difference to the handling it was time to knock up a Panhard rod. Because of the non standard tank with the extra wide lip surrounding it, plus the non standard over axle exhaust there was no chance of an off the shelf Panhard rod fitting into the small space between them. Therefore I had to do it my way – the hard way – again.
The main upright from the body that the rod attaches to was angled to fit between the exhaust and fuel tank. Even this still needed another cut and offsetting by 5mm. Once the upright was in place the side and rear mounting stays could be fabricated to just miss the bits that wouldn’t normally be in the way. The easiest part to make was the bracket mounting on the axle because there was nothing in the way.
Foolishly I didn’t think to take any photos until after I’d dropped it back on the floor. Instead I have a pic of the black wrinkle finish cam covers that I’ve just fitted. These have had the lettering removed and look fairly subtle but I do wonder if they’ve just a bit too plain.
Since it has been on the road the air filter on the 4AGE throttle bodies has been a foam ITG unit that slips over the trumpets. You hear that sock style air filters rob power and I don’t see why the filter I was running would be any different. Also the noise generated was rather excessive so something needed to be done. Some time ago I purchased a Pipercross PX600 airbox but hadn’t gotten round to fitting it.
Clearance under the bonnet is tight ( the existing foam filter touches the bonnet) so it required some juggling to fit. By aligning the airbox so that it was high at the rear and low at the front it fitted under the bonnet. However it did just touch the bonnet but this was overcome by the use of a heat gun and some reshaping of the airbox on the top edge.
The good news is that it all works and induction noise is much reduced so turning it more into a Q car.
This weekend I’ve finally fitted an anti-tramp bar kit that I purchased a while back from a trader at the MG event at Silverstone. Thinking I would need longer U bolts I made enquiries to the trader but (fortunately) they didn’t reply so I started looking at making the brackets that attach to the springs. This was when I discovered that the kit I had been sold wouldn’t work because the rear brackets weren’t for a Midget. At least I found this out before buying longer U bolts. A few hours of cutting, drilling and welding had some rear brackets made up and the anti-tramp bars fitted. Next up will be the panhard rod.
On the way to the first show for the Midget I realised that I’ve probably done more miles in the Midget in less than 2 months than I’ve done in 10 months in the Porsche. Anyway, the sun was out and we popped down to Helmingham Hall for their annual classic car show.
Despite arriving earlier than usual we were at the back and next to a Cobra replica and some glorified Beetle – well it only had 4 cylinders.
We had a chat with a few other Midget owners and didn’t get hung by any purists either. Car of the show for me was a nice usable 911 and closely followed by a silver Scimitar GTE.
We arrived home in one piece then after a cuppa Louise had her first drive in a car that is older than she is. Going from a Boxster to a Midget is a bit of a shock but she also found that after a few miles it had a fun factor but in a different kind of way to the clinical efficiency of a Porsche. Annoyingly she also had the first wave from a fellow MG driver.
It has been six weeks since the Midget hit the road but unfortunately it was off the road a bit during that time. After the first week the alternator started to screech badly so a new one was ordered. When it arrived I realised that the used on fitted had the rear housing turned 90 degrees and the wiring wouldn’t reach. Rather than strip open a brand new unit I ended up removing the exhaust manifold and remaking the wiring. When completed I went to fire it up and there was a buzz of the fuel pump then a bang. The pump fuse was blown and further testing revealed a dead fuel pump.
I was never happy with the swirl pot in the fuel tank so this was an opportunity to fit an external swirl pot and a Facet lift pump. One week later (and having missed MG90 at Silverstone) and I was back on the road.
Over the weeks there was much fettling of the fuel and ignition map and now it is running quite well but more power must still be there for the taking. One area that I’ve thought was poor was the brakes due to their lack of effect and even heavy brake pedal effort seemed to make no difference. The pads fitted were some stock Mintex pads ( not the M1144) so it was time to try something else. The EBC Greenstuff is much maligned on the forums but the EBC products seem to be constantly evolving so I thought I’d give them a try. Initial impressions after a few miles is that they are very effective and they have a nice pedal feel. I’m hopeful that they’ll stand up to spirited driving in what is only a 700Kg car.
I’ve been playing with the LC-1 logging and roughly adjusting the mixture based on the traces but with the ECU and LC-1 being separate it is very much a case of adjusting the fuelling a range of cells and hope for an improvement. The improvements are coming and it is starting to pull a lot better. I’m even getting used to the handling characteristics so it is more fun now.
The discovery of the day is that the DTA E48 ECU I have is at V8 of the hardware and this means that it will take a 0-5 volt wideband lambda input and the LC-1 provides this on the #2 analogue output. This afternoon I wired up the LC-1 to the ECU and created a lambda translation table covering the range supported by the ECU. Firing it up and I had a reading in the ECU software. This might help me get the mapping sorted quicker although the DTA will only record the last 3 minutes of logs. I’ve just remembered that MegaLog Viewer should be able to read DTA files so that is something for tomorrow morning.
So with the MOT test booked for Monday the weekend was spent tidying up little bits and piling up a few spares and some tools ready for the first drive to the MOT station. A couple of gallons of fuel were added to take the gauge off the empty line and took it almost to half way.
Monday morning came and this was my first drive ever on a road in a Midget. Prior to that all I’ve done is spin it round on the drive, so this first drive was a bit of an eye opener. I know it is called a Midget but it is small and the drive to the MOT station was thankfully soon over. What I didn’t expect was to turn around and head home so soon. Despite pre-booking it, the MOT man wasn’t in so no chance of a MOT today.
Not one to waste a chance of a run home I hooked up the Innovate LC-1 to the laptop and logged the return journey. I didn’t need the LC-1 to tell me it was lean – the throttle bodies did a good job doing that with all their spitting. Once home a quick +10% fuel hike across the main rev range that I was running in, and a general smoothing of the fuel table ready for Tuesday.
Tuesday’s run to the MOT station was much better and the fuelling appeared far improved and no spitting from the old gal today. The car even felt more solid to drive despite not having done anything other than a quick cut and polish in the morning.
On to the MOT and there was a surprised face when the bonnet was lifted – he wasn’t expecting a 16v engine. The MOT test went fine with the examiner commenting on the solid condition on the Midget. Not surprising really considering the number of panels that were replaced. One headlight needed adjusting but everything else was fine and even the brakes were very evenly balanced side to side.
Leaving the MOT station I switched on the AFR logging and the result was a much richer mix in the 12 – 14:1 range. That will do for the moment as it makes the thing drivable. Once home the headlight surrounds were fitted then it was time to pose…
So just under 3 years and 3 months and the ebay Midget was reborn. Now to make it handle like a Porsche….
It has been less than 2 weeks since the last post and the to-do list has decreased substantially.
The transmission tunnel is all carpeted and the gear lever gaiter and surround fitted. The gaiter is from a MR2 Mk1 and the original Midget surround needed cutting and forming before being welder back together. A quick coat of satin paint and it was screwed into place and looks sort of ok. I will sort out the larger opening at some point but time isn’t on my side so it will do.
Next up was the manifold and heat shield. I’m not overly keen on the idea of exhaust heat wrap due to reports of the corrosion that can occur underneath it. However this car won’t be used heavily so anything that helps keep the temperature down is worth a go. Fitting it is a messy job that I hated doing and little strands of fibre go everywhere. An additional shield was made to try and protect the alternator from the heat and clamped to the front primary. I’m hoping that will be enough to keep it cool on the drive to Silverstone.
This evening saw the engine run up to full temperature for the first time and then waiting for the fan to kick in. I probably worry too much about this sort of thing but I didn’t want to cook the engine so close to MOT time. Anyway the good news is that the fan did kick in eventually and the temperature was back under control in a few seconds so hopefully that little Suzuki Swift radiator will be up to the job.
While running to temperature the mixture setting was monitored and we are running a bit rich with an AFR ratio of 13:1 at idle and around 12:1 with some revs. The throttle pump effect needs a tweak though because it does lean out noticeably as the throttle is opened before the fuelling kicks in.
The MOT is booked for next Monday so just 4 days to play before the maiden road voyage.
The main achievement this week has been fitting the new hood. The vinyl of the original hood was still in good condition but the windows were torn so a new hood was ordered from donhood.com. It was with trepidation that I started fitting it but marking the centre line on the car at the rear and on the hood gave me confidence that it would at least be central. I used the fitting instructions downloaded from the MGOC because they were more concise .
The header rail was pop riveted in place as per the original mainly because the holes were a bit too large for screws. Hopefully I’ll have no need to remove the hood from the rail.
The hood came with 6 Tenax fasteners but I’ll use 2 more to replace the velcro strips used on some Midgets and these are still to be fitted.
Since the above photo was taken the passenger door handle and lock are installed and the inner window strip was also fitted.
It is now the 22nd and I’ve just realised that I didn’t publish this post so here is a bit more… The to-do list is getting shorter following a few evenings working on the doors. The door mirrors were fitted using the Midget specific mounts for the Tex mirrors. I did remember to wind the window up before drilling through the door…
To save time the existing navy blue door cards were re-used and I’ll sort something out when I’m on the road. It could be new door cards in black or I could try spraying the navy ones, we’ll see. I’m sure the MOT man won’t care too much that the cards don’t match the rest of the interior.
Next up will be finishing the tunnel area. I’m hoping to be MOT ready in two weeks.