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Wednesday, January 1, 2025

[Sticky] The Beck TD Story Starts Here!

If you have found your way to this blog via the Internet or the article in Classic Motorsports magazine about the Beck's Brewery MG TD, welcome to the Grant Street Garage! I was thrilled to have a full-page article printed in the November, 2017 issue of Classic Motorsports about my MG project. If you would like to read the whole story so far, start at this link, which will lead you through multiple blog posts:


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Beck TD, Part 63: Cylinder Head Musings

The readership of this blog contains both serious mechanic-types, and "casual" readers - friends who just want to see what I'm up to. If you're in the latter group, move along... you have my permission to skip this very detailed post for the Volvo engine geeks! For the rest of you, let's take a look at the various options for cylinder heads for our B18/B20 engines.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Beck TD, Part 62: Two chokes, choking

Beck TD has a pair of SU carburetors, and like all carburetors, each one has a choke mechanism to help the car start when cold. For the first couple of years, Beck's worn engine required the carbs to be set with such a rich mixture that the choke was never needed, but since I added a new, sound engine, it really wants the choke. And that was a problem, because there was no choke linkage...

Monday, May 11, 2020

Beck TD, Part 61: A Great eBay Find!

Part 60 was all about replacing the wooden rail to which Beck TD's convertible top attaches, and once that was successfully completed, I wanted to complete the effect with an addition called a "tonneau cover." I'll start with the end of the story, photographically. It's installed here - the black canvas cover behind the seat, covering the open "trunk" of the car.




Monday, April 27, 2020

Beck TD, Part 60: Replacing the Rear Top Rail

Honestly, when I'm doing something geeky for Beck TD, sometimes the hardest part is deciding the blog post's title. I finally settled on "just the facts, Ma'am" - yes, I replaced the rear top rail. Now to tell you what that is!

At the end of Part 58, after rebuilding the driver's door hinges, I included this picture and noted that it was the first time I had ever driven Beck TD with the top up. But there's something I didn't tell you...


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Beck TD, Part 59: An M41 Shifter

I'm writing this on April 14th, 2020 - almost exactly a month into the COVID-19 quarantine. It was Friday, March 13 when we decided to cancel our Sunday worship services at Lancaster Church of the Brethren, where I work. By the next week, we were doing online church, and the building was basically closed. What a change! All those changes have kept me away from the Grant St. Garage, because I was the person with the tech skills to get us online. It has been a wild four weeks!

But... as I came to understand some things about video production, audio editing and live streaming, the pressure has eased a bit and I made it back to the shop this afternoon. The project of the day: the shifter for the M41 overdrive transmission I laboriously rebuilt beginning in Part 51, extending for multiple posts. When I got that rusty, seized transmission, it came with a coveted remote shifter, but it was totally broken - something heavy had fallen on it and destroyed it. The upper photo is of the remote shifter currently installed in Beck TD, and the lower is of the broken shift extension from the one I rebuild. In addition to that irreparable break, the entire top plate of the shifter had warped and cracked. I needed a new shifter!


Monday, March 23, 2020

Too Many Indicators!

There is a thing called Segal's Law which states, "A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure." It's about the limits of certainty when measuring, and also a caution about trusting an instrument without verification. That Wikipedia link has some really daunting math to back it up.

Well, while quarantined by COVID-19, what better time to check various test indicators to see what I have? And I actually had a good reason: my Sherline lathe is not giving a great finish to the cuts, and I wanted to test it out. I gathered up four different indicators to get a consensus measurement.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Beck TD, Part 58: Those Suicidal Doors

Way back in December of 2017, Part 14 of this saga told of my efforts to repair several problems with Beck's "suicide" doors - so-called because they open swinging from the rear. If they open when  you're driving, they are ALL the way open in a heartbeat, and if you aren't belted in, out you go! That actually happened to my cousin Joyce when we were little kids. We were all riding in the back seat of her Mom's car, and Joyce leaned against the door handle and opened the door as we were going around a slow right-angle in a parking lot. She tumbled out, but fortunately wasn't even skinned up much.

In Part 14, I thought I had adjusted the door latches so that both the primary and secondary latches would catch, but I made a tactical error: I did the adjustment while the car was on the lift. When I put it on the ground, everything shifted and both doors would only engage the primary latch. I tempted fate and drove it that way for a couple of summers, but I needed to fix it.

Friday, March 6, 2020

A Beginner's Welding Table

Fair warning... if you are looking for expert advice on how a beginner can create a welding table, move along - nothing for you here. This is the chronicle of how a beginner created his first homemade welding table. That's a long tradition. Woodworkers make their own tool boxes and workbenches in the course of learning their craft, and welders weld up their own welding tables and welder carts as part of the initial practice.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Beck TD, Part 57: Overdrive Success!

After my recent post about my attempt to understand how my M41 overdrive does its work, I was ready to reassemble. I used a lot of new parts, including all three bearings in the overdrive unit, and all the parts still available via Moss Motors - mainly o-rings, a spring or two, various seals and washers. I won't bore you with pictures of the assembly, because it is extremely well-documented in this pair of videos by John 'The Box' Roseby on The Sunbeam Alpine Channel on YouTube:

Disassembly: https://youtu.be/Ht6eb7w4gto

Assembly: https://youtu.be/WvAjwhIaSzw

Once it was done, I installed the overdrive unit on the transmission, and set it on my crude but effective test stand:


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Beck TD, Part 56: Understanding my M41 Overdrive (Laycock D-Type)

At the end of Part 2 of this overdrive saga, when I had just gotten the transmission working (minus the overdrive unit), I promised I would try to actually understand how the overdrive works. I've made some good strides toward that goal, so I'm going to try to tell you what I've learned. Nothing like trying to teach something to tell you what you don't understand...

Here's the problem: most of the multitudes of books and web pages I reviewed assume you know certain things. For instance, what all the parts inside of the overdrive are called, and maybe how they go together. So, if it refers to the "annulus" you have to have some sense of what that is. In addition, there are cryptic, color-coded cut-away diagrams that are difficult to read if you've never held the parts in your hands. Not ideal for beginners.

I'm going to try it a different way, leading you through discovering certain points based on pictures of the individual components. Let's start with this one:


Monday, February 3, 2020

Beck TD, Part 55: Tom Bryant's SU Carb Tuning Procedure

When I rebuilt the SU HS6 carbs in Beck, I followed the online procedure published by Tom Bryant, who has rebuilt hundreds of sets. It worked great, although I couldn't know it right away because the engine in Beck was in such poor shape. After installing a used engine I procured from Joe Lazenby, I installed my rebuilt carbs and proved that I had done it right.

When I first set them up, I purposely left them "fat" at Cor Engelen's advice - he noted that it would do no harm to be a bit rich, but you could burn a valve if they were too lean. It ran fine, but blackened the plugs after a few hundred miles. I decided today, when PA weather was gloriously warm and sunny, was a great day to tune them better.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Beck TD, Part 54: M41 Overdrive, Part 2

In Part 1 of this saga, I unveiled a "what if" project - a Volvo M41 overdrive transmission that was locked up, with a broken shifter from something heavy falling on it. Upon opening the case, I found this rusty mess:


Part 1 detailed the disassembly of the main transmission. From there, I continued to start to disassemble the overdrive unit. It's a Laycock D-type overdrive that was used in various cars, and I wanted to understand how it works! Of course, since the trans and overdrive share the same oil supply, it was a rusty mess too:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Beck TD, Part 53: A Special Transmission Tool

I've been enjoying this project to rebuild an antique Volvo M41 transmission - it has been quite the learning experience. The M41 is an overdrive transmission, and that is a very different beast from the M40 trans that I recently rebuilt. One of the interesting aspects is that the overdrive shift action is done with hydraulics at very high pressure (over 500 PSI), using an oil pump built into the overdrive unit.

Of course, when you're rebuilding, you want to inspect and repair that high-pressure pump, and it turns out it has a part that requires a special tool to remove. It's called the "non-return body" and it's down in the bottom of a hole. This photo is a bit hard to read, but you can see the non-return body at the bottom of the hole, and the part itself is shown in the inset at the top right. It's not a normal hex head. Instead, it is sort of an oval with flat sides:


Friday, December 20, 2019

More on the "Very Specific Jack"

In my last post (link) I detailed the creation of a "very specific jack" to use with my new ER32 Spin Indexer (link). Its mission in life is to support the far end of stock mounted in the indexer, far above the milling machine's table. Here's a photo:


Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Very Specific Jack

I recently posted about an addition to the machine shop equipment at the Grant Street Garage: an ER32 Spin Indexer (link). In response to that post, my friend Jake pointed out that I should have something at the far end of the work in the indexer to keep it from flexing, lest I get inaccurate or inconsistent results. Even a large rod can flex a few thousandths of an inch with just fingertip pressure. This photo makes the issue clear:


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Beck TD, Part 52: Saving a Switch

Here's the second post in a row about extraordinary efforts to try to save a part that is basically junk! The photo below shows two switches removed from the broken shifter in the M41 transmission I'm trying to resurrect (see Part 51 for more details):


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The ER32 Spin Indexer

Wow, if you even made it past the title of this geeky machinist post, you must be pretty interested in machine work! A spin indexer is a useful tool that lets you precisely locate round stock in a milling machine, and rotate it very accurately in one degree increments.  This photo shows the indexing wheel that has holes every 10 degrees, and the 10 offset holes that bring it down to one-degree increments. There's a pin, not shown, that locks the rotation at the desired setting.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Waste Not, Want Not

In Part 51 of the Beck TD saga, I told about the start of a big experiment: rebuilding a locked-up, rusty M41 overdrive transmission. That is progressing pretty well, but I took an interesting side trip the past couple of days. In the last post, I didn't mention that in addition to the rust and bad bearings, the M41 transmission had taken a hard hit at some point - so hard that the "remote shifter" had broken in two! In the photo below, the top part shows the remote shifter currently in Beck TD, and the lower part the pieces of the broken shifter tail from the M41. The hit was so hard that the heavy shaft inside was bent as well, and the top of the shifter plate was bowed.

Monday, December 2, 2019

A Mildly Embarrassing Repair

It was back in 2016 when I received a used Sherline lathe for Christmas. Click here for the post announcing that addition to the shop. Here's a photo from that post: