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Building My XI


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Well, I've started. Not quite building it, because the kit isn't due to be collected until the end of January, but I'm getting ready.

I didn't fancy all the hard and messy work of breaking up a 50 year old or so Spridget, and I discovered that Andy Jennings runs a breakers yard specialising in Spridgets and MGBs, So I've bought an engine, back axle, diff (with 4.22:1 ratio) propshaft (which I now realise I don't need), steering rack, steering column, king pins, hubs, engine mounts and a full set of instruments.

I've done a deal with Simon Westwood to have the type 9 conversion option but without the gearbox itself, as I want to have a Steve Perks 'box with some modified internals. No point in buying a reconditioned 'box from Westfields only for Steve Perks to strip it down and start putting some different gear sets in it. I've bought a broken (!) type 9 on ebay, (much cheaper than an allegedly "good" one) which I'm picking up this coming weekend.

I've also done a deal with Simon for the factory to supply me with Protech alloy dampers instead of Gaz.

I have a price from Peter May of Peter May Engineering to spend lots of my hard earned on turning my standard engine into something more like what I'll want, if you know what I mean!

The set of instruments will be going to Paul Draycott in due course, to turn into a decent set of "dash clocks". I don't know Paul, but Andy Jennings recommended him, and having spoken to him on the telephone he sounds like one of the good guys.

So I started with the steering column, as that is one of the items I have to get to the factory for them to modify. Actually, they only want the bottom 4" or so, as the weeld it onto their own 2 piece column. I felt a right vandal chopping the end off an otherwise perfectly servicable column. So that is another bit of scrap to be weighed in in due course!

Then I tackled the back axle, as the factory need that as well. I finished stripping it and wire brushing it earlier today. What a job! 50 year old nuts and bolts on the underside of a road car axle end up so rusted that it is difficult to work out what the correct spanner size is! And when you have, the spanner promptly rounds off the corners of the hex. So having bought lots of penetrating fluid with very little sucess, I invested in a new toy, namely a disc cutter/grinder! Oh what fun I've had, sparks flying everwhere!

Although I've given the axle casing a good going over with a wire cup brush in my trusty Black & Decker, and got it more or less rust free, it would look very "orange peely" if I leave it as it is and just paint it when it comes back from the factory, so tomorrow I'll go over it with a hard sanding disc which I have. And I'll use a small sanding band in the Dremmel in the hard to reach corners.

That's all for now folks, it's time I had a cup of tea and a snooze!

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Thanks guys, it won't be a sprint car, but might well turn up to spectate at one or two rounds! And it might be used very occasionally for a trackday.

Sadly the garage isn't heated, but my overalls are quite warm over the top of normal clothing!

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Could you let me know which steering column you are using?  I'm currently building a previously unstarted 1986 ali bodied pre lit car, which I will need to IVA, so I'll have to fit a suitable column but I want to retain a retro look with a Type X1 type steering wheel.


Thanks Gary

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Gary, my steering column will be a Westfield supplied item specifically for the XI, for which they need the bottom 4" of the MG Midget column (ie the splined end which attaches to the rack) which Westfield then weld to the end of their column.

Whether or not it is the same dimensions as a pre-lit I have no idea. The point of what otherwise seems an odd arrangement is that in common with a lot of cars of the late 60s and early 70s, the standard MG Midget column is one rigid thick walled tube, from rack to steering wheel. That is potentially very dangerous of course, because even a relatively minor front end impact could result in serious chest injuries to the driver, with the column and steering wheel being forced up into the driver's chest, and/or face. The Westfield column has a u/j joint half way up so is designed to fold in an accident. I suspect a one piece column would fail IVA on safety grounds.

You may well find a standard Westfield column would work for you, perhaps with the bottom of a different column welded on in the same way, which would come from the same model of car as your steering rack. the cockpit end of the Westfield rack is, I believe, designed to tack a Motorola pattern of steering wheel.

Hope that helps!

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Thanks for your reply. Yes a one piece column would fail IVA so I'm trying to include a collapsible element to be sure. May need to talk to the factory about a connection to the Triumph steering rack.





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Hi Gary.

The standard Triumph Herald/Spitfire used a two part collapsible column to connect steering wheel to rack ,can you not use that?

If not, a two part tube with a suitable joint ( Apex or similar) in the right position will suffice for the column.

Just a thought but would a period steering wheel pass IVA?

And did you manage to find a pre-lit screen?



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I haven't done anything to the car this weekend as I've been away in South Wales, except I did take the opportunity to go and fetch the type 9 gearbox which I bought several weeks ago on ebay. It is broken (!) but only because it slips out of a couple of gears. As I intend to have it completely re-built by Steve Perks that wasn't relevant to me (the damage that is). In fact, judging by the external appearance, the 'box looks in very good order generally, so I have high hopes that it will do the job in the XI perfectly.
Last week, before we went away, I finished cleaning and stripping the back axle. It is ready to go to Westfield to have new mounting brackets welded on to take the 5 point suspension mounting, and coil sprint/dampers. The bottom of the steering column will go at the same time.
I've also cleaned up the rear hubs/wheel bearing carriers. They don't look in bad condition, although I'll probably fit new bearings and oil seals before assembling the axle components. Easy now, whereas it would be a pain to find after building the car that I had a rumbling bearing or a weeping oil seal, and have to strip it again.
I've also cleaned up the differential. Lots of petrol and liberal use of an old tooth brush. It looks to be in good order, but again I will have it stripped and new bearings, and oil seals fitted, and the back lash adjusted. I'll probably ask Peter May to do that whilst he is building the engine.
Unfortunately, the king pin assemblies are a different story. I think one of them will clean up ok, but the other looks a right mess and may well prove beyond redemption. I'll get the worst of the dirt and rust off first before seeking advice from my garage owner friend as to whether he thinks it is repairable.


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I've spotted that Moss Europe can supply complete kingpin assemblies either new or reconditioned (not certain which) at not unreasonable money, and Peter May offers a reconditioning service, so I think I'll be digging a bit deeper into the money box, and not bother trying to recondition them myself. Also Peter offers a reconditioning service for the steering racks at a reasonable price.

I know it is all adding to the cost of the build, but at the end of the day it would be a pity to have a car that looks new for all practical purposes, but because of skimping on steering or suspension feels and drives like a car which is old. Anyone who has had a 10 year old car, and then replaces it with a similar car which is new or nearly new (as I did for my daily driver only 2 or 3 months ago) will I think understand that no matter how well a car is maintained, the wear that builds up over the many miles of use just make the car feel different, less precise and crisp in the way it steers, rides over uneven roads, stops on hard braking etc.

In my case, I'll have new suspension, with uprated dampers, uprated new brakes (because I've ordered them) and trackday tyres all of which would only serve to magnify the feel of worn steering. I think in the overall context of the car, the cost of fully and professionally rebuilt steering rack and kingpin assemblies, and new trackrod ends, is a "no brainer" really. So as Peter May does these on an exchange basis, I'll just give the old ones I have a bit of a cosmetic scrub-up, and thne get them over to Peter in due course along with the engine and the diff. I'll get the wheel bearings and seals replaced with new as well, for the same reason, namely I want to end up with a car which drives like new when I've finished.

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not much has happened this week, from the build point of view, partly because it was my birthday last wednesday! And nothing much will happen this weekend because my son and my newest grand-daughter are staying for the weekend.

However, I have put a first coat of anti-rust primer on the engine mounting brackets. I've also discovered that my 2 kingpin assemblies don't match, one has a large tapered hole for the trackrod end and the other has the smaller tapered hole! It is the larger one which would match my steering rack, so next week I'll see if I can do a swap with Andy Jennings. Actually, I've got several surplus bits, but need 2 front hub/bearing carriers, which he didn't have available when I first ordered parts from him, so plenty of scope for trading, hopefully!

I've also now realised that there were 2 handbrake options with Midgets, either black painted or chromed. I've got a black one, but think a chromed one would look more "in period", so I'll see if he has a chrome one in stock, to swap. I'f not I'll investigate the practicality of getting the paint stripped off (probably powder coating, so not quite so easy?) and have it chromed, as otherwise the one Andy supplied is in good order.

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