Tech Tips by the Dozen III


One TD owner from an MG club fixed a front shock using two steel rings that just fit on the shafts with an O-ring pressed between the steel ring and shock. Four set screws hold the ring. Repair done in 1975 is still good. In comparison, new/rebuilt shocks cost $100-$200.

When timing an engine with a timing light, the reading you get at the timing mark should be steady and consistent. A reading that bounces around as much as 10 degrees either way indicates the need to rebuild or replace the distributor.

To get a grip on SAE bolts that have been slightly “enlarged” because they have a thick coat of rust on them, try using your metric-size sockets. You should be able to find one that is slightly larger than the SAE size and will slide on the rusty bolt.

If you’re just starting to restore old cars and can only afford one set of sockets, buy the metric type. Metric sockets will be found to fit most SAE bolts, but SAE sockets won’t fit on most metric bolts.

If you buy a car brush, go for the soft, “exploded tip” type of brush. Remember this rule: If the brush won’t scratch your face when you test it in the store, it won’t scratch the paint on your collector car.

A vinyl protectant product poured into a pump-type hairspray bottle gives a nice fine spray that you can “mist” on rubber and vinyl parts of you car. Using the pump-type sprayer prevents loading the product on and helps the spray “dive” into the soft trim.

Keep a high-quality mini flashlight in the pocket of your work shirt when fixing up your cars. The light will allow you to take a close look at parts and assemblies so you can figure out how they function.

Need to make up new vacuum lines or hydraulic lines that replace the original equipment parts on your collector car? You can duplicate the shape by laying soft wire solder next to the original lines to create a template.

Use lipstick when making your own gaskets. Smear the lipstick over the surface of the flange that the gaskets will seal. Press the gasket material against it. The lipstick will transfer to the gasket material, showing the shape of the gasket so you can trim it out properly.

When replacing a foot-operated headlight dimmer switch, tie a string around the old switch on the inside of the car before removal. Pull the old switch down on the outside, switch the wires and string over, and then pull the new switch up with the same string.

To drain your radiator easily, braze a 3/8-inch nut on the center of the T-handle that turns to open the drain valve. With the nut on the T-handle, use an open-end wrench or a 3/8-inch socket to twist open the drain valve. Car show judges won’t notice.

Ever have trouble keeping a small screwdriver in a carb-adjusting screw? Machine a slot on one end of a 5/16-inch steel rod and slide into a tight-fitting section of rubber hose. Leave ¼-inch of hose extending over the slotted end of the rod to hold it in the screw.

John “Gunner” Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola , Wis., and former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.

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