This section includes the various changes and alterations that I’ve made, which have seemed sensible to me and particularly aimed at creating a car that’s as near to original as possible, but suited to driving distances in modern traffic. These will be added as and when the job is completed.

These include:

  • Five speed gearbox conversion
  • Hi-torque starter
  • Dynamo to alternator (Dynamator) conversion
  • Electronic ignition
  • 12 volt single battery conversion
  • Under floor exhaust heat shield
  • Revotec cooling fan
  • Bilge fan carb cooling conversion
  • Seat Belts
  • Twin USB charging port

The notable exception here is that I’ve chosen to stick with the original drum brakes, rather than convert to front discs. The reasons for this choice are that the original brakes in good condition, were powerful enough for a standard car used in normal road conditions and partly cost. I’ve fitted all new cylinders, lines, shoes and drums, so we’ll see how it goes.

Five speed gearbox conversion.

Of all the conversions and up grades, the 5-speed gearbox conversion is the one that I was convinced of from the start, having listened to friends that had done it and read many positive reviews. The difference that one extra gear makes is enormous – reduced revs, giving relaxed cruising, improved fuel economy, reduced engine wear and reduced emmisions.

The Hi-Gear conversion kit using the Ford Sierra Type 9 gearbox is the best current option and the conversion kit superb, with everything needed and excellent instructions. The Type 9 gearbox is now becoming more difficult to find and as a result prices are going up, so perhaps now the overall cost is becoming more prohibitive. I was fortunate to buy a re-conditioned unit in 2010 at around £350 as from the same supplier now (2016) they are £750. As a result, I believe there are new conversions, using Mazda MX 5 gearboxes, initially for MGB, but soon to be available for the ‘A’.

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First job for the 5-speed gearbox conversion is the removal of the first motion shaft spigot bush and replacement with the one supplied in the Hi-gear kit, to take the Type 9 spigot.

First job for the 5-speed gearbox conversion is the removal of the first motion shaft spigot bush and replacement with the one supplied in the Hi-gear kit, to take the Type 9 spigot.

Fitting the new Hi-gear bell housing to the 5 -speed gearbox. The original clutch fork had worn badly at the fulcrum bolt point and a replacement was sourced. New thrust bearing.

Fitting the new Hi-gear bell housing to the 5 -speed gearbox. The original clutch fork had worn badly at the fulcrum bolt point and a replacement was sourced. New thrust bearing.

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Trial fitting of gearbox with new quick shift gear selector fitted. Best to check at this stage that all the gears can be selected.

Trial fitting of gearbox with new quick shift gear selector fitted. Best to check at this stage that all the gears can be selected.

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Revised mounting as supplied in Hi-Gear kit.

Revised mounting as supplied in Hi-Gear kit.

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Speedo cable location position is different for the Type 9 gearbox, which requires surgery to the tunnel. Error in positioning the hole, put stress on the cable flange, popping the locating circlip with the result of a broken drive pinion.

Speedo cable location position is different for the Type 9 gearbox, which requires surgery to the tunnel. Error in positioning the hole, put stress on the cable flange, popping the locating circlip with the result of a broken drive pinion.

Access to pinion is via a metal plug on the opposite side of the extension.

Access to pinion is via a metal plug on the opposite side of the extension.

Broken pinion

Broken pinion

Destroying the core plug is the only way in - new core plug and drive pinion from First Motion Transmissions who supplied the reconditioned gearbox in 2009. total damage £35.

Destroying the core plug is the only way in – new core plug and drive pinion from First Motion Transmissions who supplied the reconditioned gearbox in 2009. total damage £35.

Positioning and routing of speedo cable can be seen which will eventually be hidden under the carpet.

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Dynamo to alternator conversion.

This is the 'Powerlite Dynalite' (alternator) , which they say produces 80% more power and weighs 40% less than the original Lucas unit. It was considerably cheaper than the 'Dynamotor' alternative at £125 purchased through Accuspark, the same unit being sold for in excess of £300 elsewhere. So shop around. The unit is very well made and a straight fit onto the existing mounting brackets, also taking the coil mounting collar and utilising the original fan and pulley. MGA 1500 alternator.

This is the ‘Powerlite Dynamator’ (alternator) , which they say produces 80% more power and weighs 40% less than the original Lucas unit. It was considerably cheaper than the ‘Dynalite’ alternative at £125 purchased through Accuspark, the same unit being sold for in excess of £300 elsewhere. So shop around. The unit is very well made and a straight fit onto the existing mounting brackets, also taking the coil mounting collar and utilising the original fan and pulley. MGA 1500 alternator.

Hi-torque starter

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I replaced the original Lucas inertia starter motor on recommendation from other MG owners as a further enhancement of starting reliability. I fitted a ‘Wosp’ High Torque 1.0kw unit that reduces the current draw on the battery while at the same time increasing cranking speed. It’s also considerably lighter. The unit comes fully adapted and complete with all connectors. This unit can be found for sale between £145 and £199.

Single battery 12 volt negative earth conversion.

The original MGA spec was of course for 2 x 6 volt positive earth batteries, which carried on through to MGB production. These units are now expensive to replace and less efficient than a single 12 volt unit. My car had been crudely converted to a single battery before my ownership and as I also wanted to fit an alternator, it made sense to do a full conversion.

Right hand battery cradle removed apart from the arm that retains and supports the flexible brake hose, as the left hand cradle will be used for a single 12 volt battery in place of the original two 6 volt. The left hand cradle is used in order to balance the weight in a right-hand drive car. Not sure it makes much difference, but seemed sensible advice. MGA 1500

Right hand battery cradle removed apart from the arm that retains and supports the flexible brake hose, as the left hand cradle will be used for the single 12 volt battery in place of the original two 6 volt. The left hand cradle is used in order to balance the weight in a right-hand drive car. Not sure it makes much difference, but seemed sensible advice. MGA 1500

Single 12 volt battery conversion. On a right hand drive car it makes sense to position the single battery on the passenger side, from a weight distribution point of view. On the original cradle there is a raised centre bar across the middle, designed to contain the smaller 6 volt battery, which is located in the outer (rearward) half of the carrier.To accommodate the larger 12 volt, this centre bar needs to be flattened. I then made a thin floor out of brass covered circuit board and bonded it to the frame, then sealed it with mastic.

On a right hand drive car it makes sense to position the single battery on the passenger side, from a weight distribution point of view. On the original cradle there is a raised centre bar across the middle, designed to contain the smaller 6 volt battery, which is located in the outer (rearward) half of the carrier.To accommodate the larger 12 volt, this centre bar needs to be flattened. I then made a thin floor out of brass covered circuit board and bonded it to the frame, then sealed it with mastic.

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I happened to have an old dead battery from a Nissan Micra which I tried in the adjusted cradle and found that it was a perfect fit. I tracked down a new one for £33 ($48) and it fits well with even a lug that butts up against the chassis tube.

I happened to have an old dead battery from a Nissan Micra which I tried in the adjusted cradle and found that it was a perfect fit. I tracked down a new one for £33 ($48) and it fits well with even a lug that butts up against the chassis tube.

The conversion also changes it to negative earth as I've fitted an alternator. The earth braid is fitted to the original fixing point from the earlier conversion.

The conversion also changes it to negative earth as I’ve fitted an alternator. The earth braid is fitted to the original fixing point from the earlier conversion.

Battery retaining clamp fabricated from scrap, with hooks mounted in original locating holes.

Battery retaining clamp fabricated from scrap, with hooks mounted in original locating holes.

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I fitted a new main battery cable, using a flexible welding type of 240amp, 35mm. I added in a fixed isolator switch, mounted in the heel board behind the drivers seat. It would probably be more use in the earth cable, but its location makes it inconvenient.

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Exhaust under-floor heat shield.

Some restorers suggest fitting a heat shield between the passenger side (RHD) floorboards and the exhaust pipe. I had no plan to do so as it was never a standard fit, but I came across a few sheets of this redundant circuit board insulation - thin copper sheets sandwiching a layer of fibreglass and decided it had to be used. MGA 1500 heatshield.

Some restorers suggest fitting a heat shield between the passenger side (RHD) floorboards and the exhaust pipe. I had no plan to do so as it was never a standard fit, but I came across a few sheets of this redundant circuit board insulation – thin copper sheets sandwiching a layer of fibreglass and decided it had to be used. MGA 1500 heatshield.

Sheets cut to shape. drilled and fixed with PK screws, which will be painted. MGA 1500 heat shield.

Sheets cut to shape. drilled and fixed with PK screws. MGA 1500 heat shield.

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Inertia Reel Seat Belts

My car being a 1959, had no belts fitted or mounting points. As I want to tour with the car with my wife and I want to give grandchildren a ride now and then, I decided full inertia reel seatbelts were a must.

Clearly, this raises problems  – where to mount the reels, interference with folded hood/tonneau cover being the main two. I’ve seen a couple of solutions to these where the reel is mounted either on the rear wheel arch within the boot or to the side panel. Both come with problems – intrusion into the useable boot space, unsightly brackets, but mainly that the alignment of the shoulder strap is compromised, emerging throught the cockpit bulkhead in the wrong position. To overcome this last point a secondary guide is needed to position the belt correctly, which further adds to the points mentioned.

I have come up with a solution, which is relatively simple (if very fiddly) and overcomes the location of the reel problem. Hopefully the photos will give a better idea of how this was achieved, but basically, I utilised the strengthening channel sections, located under the tonneau shelf. These are perfectly positioned to allow the shoulder belt to pass through the bulkhead in the correct alignment and once fitted the reels are solidly and securely mounted.

As with other methods I’ve seen, the means of overcoming the need to be able to raise and lower the roof is to fit a removable link in the outboard belt anchor point. In my case, I’ve used a sturdy removable link.

The inertia reel needs to be of the type with an adjustable angle facility, to allow for an inverted location.

The fitting plate with the captive 17mm bolt could be welded into place or, as I’ve done drilled and fitted with marine grade stainless machine screws. On each reel, one screw does need to be fitted via a drilled hole in the bootlid channel, but when finished, it’s covered by the bootlid sealing strip.

Fitting the bolts is extremely fiddly but not impossible and helped if you have small slender fingers (I don’t!). Also the use of a right-angled drill adaptor is essential, to accomodate working in a confined space. Welding the plate into place is a far more sensible solution, but despite doing all the welding during my restoration, I still lack the confidence to attack, upside down, an area so close to the body.

Where the belt emerges over the bulkhead wall, I’ve covered the area with a strip of thin brass shimming strip, which should be smooth enough for the belt to slide easily and not be chaifed. (More photos to follow when complete).

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The belts are working well in practice.

USB Charging Port

Whilst I don’t want to add too many modern accessories, like it or not, we can’t do without the ability to charge our various devices whilst on the move, so I looke around for a discreet unit.

I found one designed for a motorcycle that is waterproof, small and easily fitted out of the way without the need for drilling.

The unit fitted up under the lefthand corner of the dash, using an extended trim screw in an existing drill hole. The pictures make it appear lower than it is… viewed from the seat it is barely visible. The unit has it’s own on/off switch and is live from the bulkhead fuse block. This enables charging with the ignition off.

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