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New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:01 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Hello all,

In my intro thread, I mentioned that I'm a US-based owner of a 1974 US market Marina GT.

This car appeared on Ebay back over the summer, and even though I didn't buy it then I made contact with the seller, and it arrived here in Kentucky on Friday.

The story of its arrival is a bit fun, and something that I will write up in time, but for now it's resting while I'm out of town for the weekend. The previous owner did a LOT of restoration work on it and had the exterior looking great but it has sat for 10 years and shows some evidence of that. It's not currently running, but I hope I can fix that by the end of the week.

As a bit of background on myself-I'm 31 years old, and have always had a bit of an interest/fascination with LBCs in general. I'd wanted an MG for years, and bought a 1970 in the fall of 2015. I've had a LOT of fun with that car and it's not going anywhere. Having learned to drive in the mid-2000s on fuel injected Japanense and American cars that just run, it was a bit of adjustment for me but I've also learned a LOT about cars in general and about MGs specifically since buying it. I'm also proud to say that it's only made three visits to the shop in that time-one was to fit a new top, one was to rebuild/restuff the seats, and finally to fit new tires. I've had the engine out(with help) to change the transmission, and am planning an engine rebuild and overdrive install in the next year.

The Marina is putting together a couple of desires. I'd shopped Morris Minors pretty heavily as a somewhat more practical(meaning a usable trunk and back seats) LBC to supplement the MG, but the right one never came along. I'd know about Marinas for a while, but they're quite uncommon in the US, with the number of surviving examples estimated at "around" 2 dozen. The larger size, somewhat newer design from a Minor, and shared engine with the MGB all appealed to me. So, after a few months of dragging my feet, I have now now parked next to my MG.

With the carrier issues in getting it to where it needed to go, I made a bit of an emergency effort to start it with a jump pack and ether, but it was a no go since it wouldn't spark(a coworker bailed me out with a tow strap hooked to his minivan and me steering and braking, plus some grunting for the final few feet, to get it in place). At least I know the engine is free given that it cranked fairly well, so I think I just need to track down the spark to get it running. I'm also afraid that the parking pawl MAY be broken, but I can deal with that if it's the case.

I can't do anymore on it until tomorrow, but I do have a fresh battery ready to be installed(the old one showed fully open circuit when I tried to charge it, and I was a bit afraid to try pumping 20V+ through it to see if I could break through any sulfation, especially since even if it had come back it would have been at seriously reduced capacity). I'll try a clean up on the points, but have a new set of points/condenser, a new cap, and a new rotor on the way. Unfortunately, since it's a 45D and not a 25D, I didn't have that stuff on hand.

I'll update this with my progress. Once the car is running again, I can drive it to the sheriff's office and get a Kentucky safety inspection-something that's a bit of a joke. They charge $5 and it takes less than 5 minutes while they check headlights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, and the horn(you sit in the car and activate all of those things when they tell you). I'll have to risk driving it there on expired registration, since they won't come to me unless I have a minimum of two cars for them to inspect. Once that's done, it will be ~$50 to register it on historic plates and go from there.

I'm excited about getting this one back on the road!
On the carrier
On the carrier

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:40 pm
by lock1506
Welcome, that looks really nice and solid. I don't like those huge US spec bumpers though, our slim MK2 ones with the rubber strip and over riders suit the cars much better.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:35 pm
by locost_bryan
Sounds like a bit of an adventure. Have you been in touch with Skip Harris at RPM Group He seems to have the biggest stock of Marina parts in the US.

Welcome to the forum.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:00 am
by ben_hutcherson
Thanks-yes I've talked to Skip a fair bit both before buying and now after buying the car.

When I first started looking at buying it, I called John Twist, who is known/respected in the MG community as one of the top repairmen. He'd worked on Marinas before(not surprising considering that he opened his British repair business back in the late 70s) but said he hadn't seen one in years. He did, however, connect me with Skip, who has been an invaluable resource.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:36 am
by ben_hutcherson
I do have some progress to report.

First of all, the good news:

I had it "catching" a bit on ether, but it wouldn't stay running. I also noticed that the wipers were a bit funny acting and would only operate either when cranking or with the key held a certain way. Going on that, I pulled the cowling off the column to look at the ignition switch, and found the back of it falling off. I pulled the whole assembly to try and rebuild the switch, but the contacts were bad and it didn't want to stay together.

I texted Skip on Tuesday night about that, and he had one in the mail to me on Wednesday. It arrived Friday, but family obligations kept me from doing anything until today.

With the new switch in, it seemed to come back to life a bit more. With the key on, I could measure voltage at the coil(it previously would only energize the coil when cranking). I'd also fitted the mechanical fuel pump, which I'm not sure is working. Even so, it would run several seconds on ether, something that it previously wouldn't do. With that said, though, the electric pump the previous owner installed also came back to life. I'm not sure if it was installing and removing the in-line fuse, or if it was whacking it with the handle of a screwdriver(the electric pump isn't an SU-it's a generic Autozone one that ticks all the time, although not as loud as the Facet that use to be on my MG).

So, with the carburetor full of fuel, it actually ran. It took a bit of choke fiddling, but I soon had a nice idle that sounded just like I'd expect a B series engine to give. It was a a bit high, running in the 1K-1200 rpm range, but I remembered later this evening that I'd left the vac advance line disconnected when messing with the distributor. I haven't run it since hooking that back up, but I expect the idle will come back down to something a bit more reasonable when I put it back on(I also need to check the vac advance and see if it's working).

As I waited for it to warm up, some other things seemed to start coming back to life. I did notice a small leak in the carb-I'll give Joe Curto a call tomorrow and get a float, needle valve and seat, gasket set, and possibly a solid throttle disk. I hate poppet valve disks, although I need to check before ordering one a replacement as they're not cheap and there's a chance one other prior owner(who I also know) would have fitted a solid.

Everything was looking good, aside from the fact that I need to sort out some electrical stuff still.

Unfortunately, now the bad:

I was feeling adventurous and decided I'd go for a drive. I went to put it in "D", and felt the shift lever come loose from the linkage. I tried to get at it from the top, but couldn't see anything. Finally, a bit of digging through the service manual showed me how the linkage works, and I was able to get at it and reattach from under the car. I also figured out how to change gears from under the car using my hand or a screwdriver(if the exhaust is hot) if need be.

So, after a big of complaining, the car finally moved under its own power for the first time in 10 years. I did a few in and out trials of just moving a few feet, and then decided to head out to the road.

My normal road test is up a fairly steep hill about a half mile long right behind my house, and then a trip back down. It made it up to the hill and turned around, although I DEFINITELY noticed that the transmission was a bit sluggish to respond to what I wanted and a bit hesitant to downshift(I'm wondering if I need to look at and adjust the kick-down cable, but that's a job for another day).

All was going well, but I had to stop at the bottom of the hill to open the gate. Just beyond the gate is a moderately steep hill that I have to get up to park. I couldn't get the transmission to cooperate for getting it up the hill. If I pushed back a bit to get a bit of a start on flat ground, it would go, but only make it a few feet before stalling. Someone offered to help and I had them step on the gas while I pushed, but that didn't do anything. Finally, I managed to attract a crowd of about 6 people, who helped me get it where it needed to go, although that was quite a job(never actually successfully pushed a car up the hill). Somewhere in there, the lever also came loose from the linkage again, but knowing where the lever on the side of the box was, I was reaching up under it to get it where it needed to be.

So, with the car back in place, I'm stuck with a running car that won't move under its own power. I'll look at it again after work tomorrow, although probably after a stop to pick up some transmission fluid. Automatic transmissions have always been something of a magical black box to me. It seems that one of two things(or possibly both) are happening-either the torque converter is slipping up to very high RPMs, or it seems reluctant to engage first. Reverse is a bit reluctant also, and the service manual gives a few nicer sounding options for that situation than if it was only one gear that was reluctant.

I did check the fluid a few hours after driving when it was more or less cool, and it was a tiny bit below the lower "cold" mark on the stick. With that said, it was a nice bright red and had an "oily" smell and not burnt. I really wish this was a manual right about now-there's not much question about whether or not that works.

Also, once it warmed up and pressurized, the upper radiator hose had a previously invisible split open up. I've written Skip to see if he has a replacement or knows a cross reference, or failing that I'll take it to the auto parts store and find a flex hose of the same ID and length-I know I'd lose the fill port in the hose, but at least I'd have it.

At least I'm getting somewhere with it, though, and as I said it did move under its own power.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:16 am
Hi Ben, welcome to marina land....
I've got a 1.3 auto that hadn't run for 7 yrs when i bought it. & had a simlar problem. Have you changed the transmission oil ?
Mine looked pristine so i didn't drain & refil it, over the 7 years it hadn't been run all the sediment had sunk to the bottom so it looked
good, a while after going on a run i lost all drive & had to get pulled home, the sediment had kicked up & blocked the filter stopping any feed to the pump.
After advice from others on here simply changing the oil & sump gasket solved the problem. its been ok since.
Of coarse you may have already done this & it could have a different fault, i just thought it worth mentioning.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:52 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Thanks-that sounds reasonable.

I'd actually meant to change it just in case before getting on the road, but it reached seemingly road worthy status before I expected it to, so didn't get around to that.

I got some advise elsewhere to put Berryman's Chemtool in it and drive for a bit before changing, but I admit to being a bit hesitant to do that.

If Skip calls me today(I asked him to if he had a chance) I'll ask him the same, but I expect his advice may be the same as yours.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:31 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Alright, shopping list to date(I'm not even going to tally what it has cost me, as it's depressing)

1. Points, cap, and rotor(haven't even installed yet since it's currently running okay)

2. Ignition switch from Skip-got the car running

3. Miscellaneous items at NAPA including fuel hose, hose clamps, fuel filter(Just told them I'm buying for an MGB to make life easier), oil, etc

4. Scott's toilet paper from the dollar store for the bypass oil filter

5. Carburetor parts(float, needle valve, gasket pack, solid disk butterfly) from Joe Curto

6. Upper and lower radiator hoses from Skip

7. Transmission pan gasket and screen from Skip

I still need to go to Wal-Mart sometime-maybe tonight if I have time-and get some Type F ATF.

Also, I do need tires. While things are sidelined, I'm considering getting up on stands, pulling the wheels off, and dropping them off at the tire store. There's a spare(steel) wheel in the trunk, and since the current tires on it aren't terrible-just old-I'm thinking I'll have them save the best and mount it on that spare wheel.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:12 am
by locost_bryan
That seems not too bad a list for recommissioning a car that has been stood for 10 years. Have you replaced the brake fluid? Highly recommended if you haven't, since it's hydroscopic and likely to have absorbed moisture while standing - not a problem until you get the brakes warmed up and the water in the fluid boils.

I think there are some good threads about the auto trans in the Tech thread - look for anything by Kilroy, he has had a number of autos that have covered huge mileage over the years, and knows his onions.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:04 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Thanks-it sounds like I ahve some reading to do.

The brake fluid is on my to do list, especially since what I can see now in the reservoir looks nasty. If I go with the take the wheels to a tire shop plan, that also sounds like a good time to flush fluid through the lines.

I definitely need to adjust the rears also, as hand brake comes all the way up with almost no resistance and won't hold the car on an incline. With the servo there, I don't get the sponginess in the pedal that I feel on the MG when the rears need attention, but I think the amount of travel in the lever is a good sign of needing it.

While we're at it, does anyone know what-if anything-the rear shoes cross reference to? I have a full set of MGB shoes and hardware I bought a while back, but that I'm years away from needing on that car. I'm hoping I might get lucky and find out they're the same.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:13 pm
by MarinaCoupe
Ben - MGB parts will not fit, the Marina drivetrain and brakes were sourced from the Triumph parts bin. Skip Harris should be able to advise on brake shoes, but I would guess one of the small Triumphs (Spitfire, GT6).

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:44 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Thanks Chris. I'll ask Skip(I figured given the shared Triumph parts on the rear end, MGBs were a no go).

Even though this is now a legitimately rare care in the US, it's nice that it shares a lot of its parts with other better known BL cars so at least things are available from the common suppliers.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:54 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Word from Skip is that the calipers are SIMILAR to those on a Spitfire, but have the hydraulic fittings in a different place. It seems that many of the other brake parts are also similar to other BL parts, but just different enough that you can't readily substitute them.

One thing I am really coming to appreciate about owning a Marina, though-for MGBs and presumably most other popular cars, new old stock parts are few and far between, and often the new stuff is pure, unadulterated junk(I wish I could get a brake light switch to last more than a year). The Marina parts out there, by contrast, seem to primarily be new old stock, so at least it's not a crap shoot as to what you're going to get quality wise on them.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:29 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Screen and pan gasket are here, so hopefully-time and weather permitting-I can get the fluid drained, pan dropped, and everything cleaned out as best as I can this weekend.

Looking at the screen-I'll see how the old one looks, but with as fine as it is I can see how it could get clogged by sludge. I'm hoping that if it is indeed clogged, I can revive the old one with some solvent and an ultrasonic cleaner, but if I do that I'll save it for a "rainy day" so to speak.

Re: New Marina purchase/new Owner

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:43 pm
by ben_hutcherson
Fun experience with working on the transmission:

I pulled the drain plug, and only a quart or so came out. I thought that seemed like too little, but wanted to get what I could out before I dropped the pan.

I pulled the pan off(it needed a bit of persuasion with the butt of a screwdriver to come lose) and let's say there was a lot more still in it than what came out the drain hole. The hole was still slowly dripping when I plugged it back up, so I wonder if it had clogged with sediment.

In any case, it was late and dark by the time I got that done, so I called it a night.

A quick assessment-the fluid does show red when "swirled" in the drain pan(I intentionally used a light gray dish pan that I cleaned up before draining so that I could look at it) but quickly darkens. I'm tempted to filter the fluid-not for any desire to reuse it, but just to see how much crud is in it.

Also, the screen is tattered to heck-it's a mess. I'm glad I have a replacement on hand!

So, tonight's plan is to get under it, wipe down anything I can get to, change the screen, bolt it all back up with a fresh gasket(thank goodness I have one-the old one came apart), refill, and hope for the best! Assuming the transmission actually decides to cooperate, I'll try to drive it around for 100 miles or so, take a look at the fluid color, and possibly do another drain and fill. I wish there was a way to actually completely drain a transmission...