Heritage shell rebuild - looking for advice and experience

Technical MGB discussion
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Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:52 pm
Forename: Duncan
Surname: Fairwood

Heritage shell rebuild - looking for advice and experience

Post by Skillster » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:03 pm

Hello. Although I’ve been in the MGCC for several years and used to use the old forum quite a bit, this is my first post to the B Register site.
I was hoping I could pick the collective brain about my rebuild project.

I bought my 1968 BGT about 16 years ago and drove it frequently before the increasing amount of rust, blue smoke and an increasing death rattle forced it off the road in 2008. Following a house move and construction of a dedicated garage, I started stripping the car with the intention of a full restoration. A year later, we took the view that the rust was so extensive that, once all the rot had been removed and new panels welded, there would be nothing left bar the roof (along with doubts about the strength and squareness of Trigger’s Broom). I took a deep breath and ordered a new shell from BMH. I started to paint it up and had the underside, engine bay and interior well on the way, but the inevitable project killer came along three years later. As he is now 6 years old, I’m looking to get moving again.

As my time is now far more limited and precious, I am going to get the painting done professionally. Can I please draw on any experience to test the sequence I’ve come up with:
1. The shell has been taken back to bare metal and primed. It is currently mounted on a chassis tilter.
2. Trial fit key mechanical items to check the BMH shell is correct: front cross-member & suspension, steering rack & column, rear springs and axle, headlights bowls (as advised by someone at MG Live last year). Anything else – I assume engine and gearbox would be over doing it?
3. Get the underside, interior and engine bay fully painted
4. Build up to a rolling chassis, initially taking advantage of the chassis tilter to fit brake / fuel lines etc on the underside.
5. Send rolling chassis away for final prep, panel fitting and final painting (to include wings, doors etc).
6. Start putting things back on whilst the engine is away for rebuild.
7. Put it all back together!

Does this seem logical?

One thing I have been unable to get clear in my head is the best way to incorporate fitting the front wings. I am very keen to make sure that the seams between the top edge and the scuttle, with the intervening beaded strip, are the best they can be and well coated / sealed.


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Peter Cresswell
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Re: Heritage shell rebuild - looking for advice and experience

Post by Peter Cresswell » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:21 pm

Hi Duncan
I think you would find the MGB Restoration Manual by Lindsay Porter and published by Haynes really useful as that details a restoration using a BMH shell, so will give you the order of doing the work. You might also find the Mark Evans series made by Discovery and called an MG is Born useful, although he restores the original shell. See here for episode 1:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huoEMqq6Oe4&list=PLNbF_n8tv3wkIi8bx8M7xqVGXT1gryCL-
then you will find the remainder of the series on the right of the screen.
I also think in essence your plan is quite logical, but I would suggest making allowances in the order to cope with various things not being completed and returned to you when you expect them.

As far as fitting the front wings go, the GT is slightly easier than the roadster as the wing dogleg goes around the edge of the screen whereas on the roadster the screen goes through holes in the front wing. I found that the door gaps don't 'come together' until the end of the fitting process, when the small bolts along the bottom of the wing are fitted. If you are having the whole car sprayed, the front wings need to be off the car to effectively spray the inner panels and behind the wings themselves, then the wing fitted and the outer panels sprayed. Otherwise the filler strips at the top of the front and rear wings will never seal properly, as this is partly done by the paint over the filler strips. This overcomes one of the main failings when the cars were new - no paint on the inner panels! You can't do the same with the rear wings as they are spot welded along the top of the wing, but a good sprayer will be able to get to most places. You will see in the YouTube videos that they use an automotive glue to overcome this.
I would recommend you use an MG or classic car specialist for the paintwork as they will understand the MGB Shell and the importance of getting paint into all the nooks and crannies - and there are a lot of them!
Finally - I hope the shell you have is a GT as the DVLA/DVSA are getting overly fussy about GTs becoming roadsters. When you try to MOT the car the chassis no comes up as a GT and not a Roadster.
1969 MGB Roadster
2011 MG 6 TSE Magnette
2007 Mercedes SLK
Plus 32 other cars since 1965

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Michael Barclay
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Re: Heritage shell rebuild - looking for advice and experience

Post by Michael Barclay » Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:01 pm

Hi Duncan
I would also trial fit the front grill as i have seen some poor fits with big gaps between the wing and grill surround.
Best regards
Mike Barclay

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Forename: Duncan
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Re: Heritage shell rebuild - looking for advice and experience

Post by Skillster » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:33 pm

Thank you for your advice chaps; I shall do some reading / watching. Next job is to find a decent painter and try and book a slot; this should give me a schedule for the trial fitting exercise.

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Forename: Colin
Surname: Parkinson

Re: Heritage shell rebuild - looking for advice and experience

Post by ColinParkinson » Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:56 am

How did you get on with your heritage shell build?

I have learnt a few things! Do not buy a painted shell!!

Before paint check:

That the heater fits and the mounting hole in the bulkhead lines up!

That the dash fits particularly around the steering column bracket on the square tube!

The holes for the strikers on the B pillar are in the correct place!

That the pedal box mounts onto the bulkhead. That was a long way out!

Lots of other bits and pieces which you would expect, but the shell is really not up to standard. I wouldnt do another!!!


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