February 5, 2012
The fuel pump on the donor is just toying with us now. The pump we ordered from Moss Motors turned out to be the wrong one, and no, we won't be discussing whose fault that was. Suffice it to say we were a little miffed on a bright Saturday morning when we couldn't hook up the fuel lines because the attachment fittings were different. The old pump used banjo fittings and the new one didn't. So we gave up on that project and started chasing up the ignition system problem using our handy new Sears automotive test light. We were quickly able to diagnose the issue as a mis-wiring of the distributor. Again, not assigning any blame, just happy to have it fixed.
With the fuel pump the only thing preventing the car from running, we began to wonder if we could bypass it. In an early episode of An MG is Born (British TV show on the Discovery channel), the host, Mark Evans, started an MGB by pouring fuel into a funnel attached to the carburetor inlet. This seemed plausible, and not entirely dangerous, so we decided to try it. We hooked everything up, poured fuel into the funnel, and listened as the gas trickled slowly into the carb float bowls, no doubt dissolving slags of varnish along the way. Should've rebuilt the carbs when we had a chance.
Eventually the bowls filled, and another splash of gas refilled the funnel. So now, moment of truth, and nothing left we could find to stall around with, we hopped in the car and pulled the choke, turned the key, and after a few revolutions the engine popped, stumbled, and fired up! Amazing! A little smoke at first from residual oil in the cylinders, and then smooth and clean. We booted the throttle and the engine revved freely, oil pressure hitting a whopping 75 PSI. The motor ran fine for about fifteen seconds, exhausted its meager fuel supply, and died.
Naturally we had to try that again, and a few more times, and each time the engine fired right up. The only problem was, it was going to be little hard to drive anywhere with such a limited range. However, buoyed by this encouraging turn of events, we decided to see what we could do to get the fuel pump hooked up. A trip to the local auto parts store produced exactly zero results, except to confirm that we weren't dealing with any sort of standard automotive hardware. So we hit the road for a British parts distributor halfway across the state.
As we drove along the Interstate toward our far-flung destination, a thought occurred to us. The part that was broken on the old pump, the solenoid, was the same on both the old and new pumps. And presumably working on the new pump. The part that worked on the old pump, the pump valve body, had the banjo connectors. It seemed logical, therefore, that we should be able to swap the good solenoid on the new pump with the broken solenoid on the old pump, and connect the pump to the fuel lines using the old banjo connectors. Brilliant? Maybe not, but shockingly, it worked.
Unfortunately the fuel pump was not done with us yet. During all the confusion over which pump was which and how to hook up the old fuel lines to the new pump, and trust me there was a lot of confusion, we managed to seriously misplace one of the banjo bolts. An exhaustive search turned up nothing, and we think it's possible that contrary to everything we were taught as kids, the bolt actually did get up and walk away. We installed the new pump anyway, and hooked up the outlet line, but it's pumping only air through the inlet as we patiently wait for yet another package to arrive from Moss Motors.
Despite the major fail on the banjo bolt it's hard to be completely discouraged. Actually, it's not that hard. But we did get the car running, at least for a little bit, and it will drive around the neighborhood some day, God willing and the creek don't rise. The experience served to reveal a few problems that'll have to be dealt with before the engine goes into the Locost. There's an oil leak in the filter conversion unit, and a fuel leak from one of the carburetor float bowls. No coolant leaks so far, but it's early yet.
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