As of:  19 February  2003 



       Back in 1995, I took my Vermillion Red 1979 MGB roadster off the road so its 79vermillred001.jpg (39754 bytes)speedometer wouldn't 'roll over'; it had just passed the 96,000 mile mark.  She was my daily driver during good weather for as long as I can remember, and she had never disappointed me or left me stranded.  Before I retired her, however, I redid her body with a beautiful new paint job.  And, I properly prepped her for her hibernation.  Now, almost 10 years on and even though I went through all the proper steps to store her, I'm not sure that it was such a good idea to just park her in a corner of my garage.

        Why?  Because, as Jerri & I look forward to my retirement and the "15,000 Mile Circle" trip through the western part of the US, Canada, and Alaska that we've planned to celebrate that event, I want Vermillian Red to be part of it.  She'll be the dinghy towed behind our RV on a purpose-built trailer.  However, she's an old girl who will need some serious prepping to make the trip and perform as she did every day of her life.  I've got to overcome 10 years of sleep to ensure Jerri & I enjoy her like we did "back in the day".

        At the same time I'm going through all her systems to ensure we will have fun with her, lots of my fellow MG-dom citizens are also wrestling with the same situation - bringing an old car back to life.  I have standard things I do to all the old cars I acquire to see if they're gonna be restorable or are gonna rest in peace in my MG Graveyard.  I also kept a listing of everything I did to Vermillion Red when I put her up so those have to be reversed.

        With all that in mind, I decided to develop a comprehensive checklist for "awakening a sleeping MGB".  Every car and every situation is different but if you follow my checklist, you'll have no trouble reviving a well sorted out car.  

        Remember, however, Vermillion Red was in excellent condition when I put her up.  I had - from day 1- always done all maintenance as outlined by British Leyland in my owners handbook, had made any repairs necessary with quality, OE parts, and had kept her 100% original.  She never had anything except 93-octane pumped into her gas tank, I always used either 10W-40 or 20W-50 Castrol in her engine and tranny, and she was never wrecked or abused.

        And, I'm gonna lavish the same amount of time and energy bringing her back to life.  This won't be a quick Saturday afternoon of sticking a battery in her, squirting some starter fluid up her carb & firing her up.  This will be a methodical refurbishment of all her operating systems.  

       As always, I keep a Bentley manual open to the section on which I'm working to ensure I don't miss a step.  And, my checklist is not designed as a step-by-step guide for how to accomplish each item.  Its only a tool to remind me of what to do, not how to do it.

        So, let's wake her up:

____  Put the car on 4 jack stands & remove wheels.
____  If there was an old battery in her, remove it to use as a core for a new battery.


____  Disconnect fuel lines at carbs.
____  Remove spark plugs & turn engine over by hand checking for compression at
         each spark plug hole (I'm not interested in the amount of compression, just that
         I still have it!).
____  Install new battery (DO NOT ATTEMPT TO START ENGINE!).
____  Turn ignition key on & allow fuel pump to drain any gas remaining in the tank
         (&, in the event you didn't drain it before laying car up, you'll probably have
         'dead' gas in there.)  
____  If fuel pump doesn't operate, stop & rebuild fuel pump and repeat process of
         draining gas tank.  While you're under there, replace all flexible gas lines to fuel
____  Adjust valves.
____  Change engine oil and filter. (In cold months, I use 10W-40 Castrol; in warm
         months, I use 20W-50 Castrol.)
____  Install new, properly gapped spark plugs.
____  Rebuild distributor (if electronic, check manual closely).
____  Install new spark plug wires.
____  Check the ignition circuit for proper operation (AGAIN: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO
         START ENGINE! At this point, all I want to know is if I have 'fire' at the plugs.)
____  Drain all fluids (radiator, engine, transmission, rear end, brakes/clutch)
____  Inspect radiator for signs of leakage (the proper way to store a radiator is with
         anti-freeze inside; you can tell if there's been any leakage by the tell-tale wierd,
         green patina on the core or along the edges of the tanks.).  If there are signs of
         leakage, remove radiator for cleaning, pressurizing, and repair.
____  Back flush the engine cooling system to remove any built-up crud.
____  Replace engine thermostat.
____  Remove the plug in the water pump & add a bit of grease.
____  Remove all belts from front of engine.
____  Bench check alternator/generator for proper operation.
____  With proper spray cleaner & one of
GEM Enterprises' special purpose brushes,
         clean all Lucas wiring harness connectors.  Once cleaned, coat them with a
         LIGHT film of conductive grease (I mean every one you can see with the hood
         up! Take 'em apart & clean both ends of the bullet connectors).  Pay especially
         close attention to the fuse block.
____  Replace all belts with new ones and reinstall alternator/generator.
____  Reinstall the radiator along with all new hoses.
____  Fill windshield washer tank.
____  Refill the cooling system with the proper mixture of water and anti-freeze.
____  Remove carbs & rebuild/clean them as necessary.  Replace air filters.
____  Inspect engine mounts & replace as necessary.
____  Replace all fuel/vacuum lines in engine compartment.
____  Replace fuel filter.
____  If so equipped, renew all emissions items to include recharging charcoal
         canisters.  If equipped, remove the hoses from the air pump & spray lithium grease up inside the pump.
____  Turn engine over with ignition switch to check compression (AGAIN, DO NOT
         START ENGINE!).


____  Remove front rotors & check for warpege.
____  Turn/replace rotors as necessary.
____  Check calipers for proper operation.
____  Replace all flexible brake lines.
____  Install new brake pads.

____  Replace fluid in transmission with the same oil you put in engine.
____  Grease universal joints/check for looseness.
____  Inspect transmission mounts & replace as necessary.
____  Visually inspect exhaust for rust/holes, proper installation, etc.
____  Visually inspect underside of car for rust.
____  Lubricate hand brake.
____  Clean all Lucas wiring harness connections & coat with a LIGHT film of
         conductive grease.

____  Remove brake drums.  Visually inspect & replace/turn as necessary.
____  Replace wheel cylinders (NO! Don't even try to repair - just replace them!)
____  Install new brake shoes.
____  Replace flexible brake line on passenger side of car.
____  Drop gas tank & visually inspect for rust.
____  Remove gas sending unit & check for free operation of arm.
____  Have gas tank boiled/cleaned as necessary (I take mine to my local radiator
         repair shop).
____  Install cleaned & newly painted gas tank.
____  Replace all flexible fuel lines to fuel pump/gas tank.
____  Fill rear end with SAE 90 Gear Oil.
____  In trunk, if so equipped, replace flexible lines to vapor separator & gas tank.
____  Put 93-octane gas in tank & pressurize fuel system to carbs.
____  Clean all Lucas wiring harness connections & coat with a LIGHT film of
         conductive grease.

____  Top off brake & clutch master cylinders
____  Bleed clutch slave cylinder & check for proper operation of clutch.
____  Bleed brake system starting with driver rear wheel.
____  Reinstall wheels & adjust rear brakes 


____  FIRE 'ER UP!
____  Allow oil pressure to come up & note where it stops at idle.
____  Allow car to idle until temperature has come up to normal operation range.
____  Make any adjustments to carbs or timing.
____  Depress clutch & verify its proper operation.
____  Check operation of transmission through all gears.
____  Check operation of hand brake.
____  Check operation of wheel brakes.
____  Visually inspect for any leakage along gas, clutch & brake lines, at wheel
         cylinders & calipers, in cooling system.

____  Install & balance new 185x70R14 tires (tubes also if wire wheels) - HEY!
         They're probably dry rotted!
____  Install wheels, adjust rear brakes & take car off jack stands.

____  Check operation of all exterior lights.
____  Replace windshield wiper blades & check operation of wiper/washer system.
____  Spray lithium grease door, hood, & trunk hinges and latching mechanisms.
____  Install one of
GEM Enterprises' emergency hood latches.
____  Lubricate top bows, seat rails & adjusters.
____  Check operation of all dash, interior, & trunk lights and switches.
____  Clean all Lucas wiring harness connections & coat with a LIGHT film of
         conductive grease.

____  After engine has cooled down, readjust valves.
____  Check/refill cooling system as necessary.
____  Check engine oil level.

NOW, its time for a short test drive.  Once around the block only.  While driving, pay particular attention to status of gauges, check for proper operation of brakes, watch for tell-tale signs of smoke from exhaust.  Back in garage...

____  Recheck all engine fluid levels.
____  Check belt tension.
____  Check clutch & brake master cylinder levels (look for signs of leakage in
         engine compartment, under dash, and on garage floor under car).
____  Put car on jack stands.
____  Recheck rear brake adjustment.
____  Tighten lug nuts (or wire wheel center cap).
____  Put her on the ground.

        At this point, feel free to drive down to the nearest filling station and fill up with 93-octane gas.  I know, I know!  Some of you are going to tell me that's not necessary.  But, hey, that's all I ever put in my cars.  I personally feel its needed all the time but should be used at least once every few tanks full.

       Then, after a good wash, wax, and interior detailing, she's ready for daily use.  From this point on, follow the maintenance guidelines in your owner's manual.