Further Thoughts on “Trickle Rebuilding”

Last year in the Summer issue of “Moss Motoring”, our R&D Manager, Chris Nowlan, expounded the theory of ‘Trickle Rebuilding”. This resulted in correspondence from several customers and we would like to share a couple of experiences with you here.

First from Columbus, GA., Gary Ganaway…

Chris’s article certainly hit home with me. I have been practicing this philosophy for about a year now on my 1969 TR6. The time had come for me to have another hobby, or if I was honest with myself, to finally own the British sports car I had always coveted in my youth. Not wishing to get involved in a major, complete, restoration I finally found this early model (CC 28117) which was in good shape and appeared to be original, except for the color.

Of course, after a few days enjoying the car, you start to sec things that need attention or need to be repaired and the fun starts! This is the point where you should all pay attention to the “trickle rebuilding philosophy’. The initial reaction is to start listing parts from every page of the superb Moss catalog which surely, after installation, will give you a completed picture perfect car. This is not only expensive, but can be frustrating since it places demands on your time, and the car always seems to be on jack stands and not on the road to enjoy-which is why you bought it in the first place!

Trickle rebuilding allows you to focus your efforts and concentrate upon a specific area, it also promotes innovation; for example, a threaded bolt, nut, large washers and sockets as distance pieces, make a good tool for pressing in suspension bushings!- and while it may sound silly, creates a “bond” with you car.

The first step is to arm yourself with the shop manual for your car, and collect all the back issues of Moss Motoring for reference articles that provide valuable information on putting and keeping your car in proper shape. Read, study, and read again, and above all take your time. A few phone calls to Moss has also helped when I had questions about specific parts or instructions.

The best rewards come from doing simple things which show immediate results without breaking your bank account. It was amazing the improvements I saw after installing new battery’ cables, new ignition wires, new points, condenser, rotor and distributor cap along with resetting the timing. The next series of improvements, again not a major expense,was new air filters, exhaust manifold and carburetor gaskets, fuel filter, and a complete draining of the oil and water including flushing the radiator.

These are the types of projects that tend to be easier to do, plus allowing you to get to know the car better as you move around and inspect; and you can road test quickly! Since then there have been numerous trickle rebuild projects I have undertaken, and yes, as you progress they do tend to become more expensive, but during all this the car was only off the road for about one week at the most.

The nice thing about these cars is that almost everything bolts, screws, or taps into place and you can experience a real feeling of satisfaction completing the projects yourself. I surprised myself by doing such things as replacing the shocks, and new front end suspension parts, new motor mounts, brakes, rotors, wheel bearings and a host of other thing I had always entrusted to the shop.

I now have a car that runs and rides better, and thanks to Moss has been kept in original condition. Yes, there arc more projects on my list but thanks to “trickle rebuilding’ I look forward to completing them one at a rime thus avoiding frustration and depiction of my bank account!


…and now from Valerie Stabenotv of Freeport, IL.

You asked last year if anyone had stories to contribute to the “trickle rebuilding’, school of thought. Do I ever?!

I have a 32 year old, a 25 year old and two 20 year olds. However these are not my children, they are my British cars! These are a ’62 MGA, a 1969 XK-E, a ’74 Triumph Spitfire, and a 1974 Midget, and I have been practicing trickle restoration since I purchased the Spit in 1986. As you can imagine with cars as old as this, some one always needs something!

With the Spit. I was primarily concerned about the mechanicals and the first repairs were a new clinch and rebuilt brake and master cylinders. A new set of tires were also in order. After the mechanical things were sorted out (and I had saved up enough of the green stuff!), I went in for the body and paint job. Since then I have sorted the mechanical fuel pump, installed a new starter, and finally figured out a strange problem with the oil light.

The “E” also had to have his mechanicals brought up to snuff. His paint is kind of old and checked (original lacquer). I replaced his oil sending unit, replaced the speedo cable and exhaust and had the rotors turned. The following year I gutted the interior and installed new panels and leather seats. The next year my brake calipers sent me a heavy duty message by leaking out all their brake fluid over winter storage. That repair entailed 4 rebuilt brake calipers, and rebuilt master cylinders for brake and clutch. Oh, I almost forgot. I ended up rebuilding the clutch slave cylinder while installing the interior. It had leaked all over the insulation on the firewall!

The Midget has by far, taught and tested me the most! Dipping and swaying down the road, I got the clear message that the lever arm shocks needed rebuilding. I did the fronts the first year and had the rears rebuilt the next. The next year the water pump went. I may not be the Easiest mechanic but I love it when my repairs only cost me the parts and my time. In this past year, I have rebuilt the carburetors and the front suspension, and the suspension rebuild had the car tied up in my shop for the winter. I spent every Saturday dismantling, reworking and then reinstalling the new pans.

All of these cumulative experiences have helped me enormously with “trickle* project #4, the MGA. Stored for 17 years before I bought him, I find this car to lx a wonder. New tires were in order, a couple of new freeze plugs and all new hoses, spark plugs, etc.This past Saturday was spent rebuilding the carburetors. It’s funny how replacing broken parts and some old seals make things run like new! Later on this year he will get a new interior and carpets from Moss. Of major importance in trickle restoration is to buy needed parts as you can afford them. The first priority is to replace broken or non-functioning items and safety related things like tires.

I like all my cars and I like to DRIVE them! It’s no fun to drive a car that has you worried about the brakes or the clutch, and I don’t see any sense in tearing a car all apart and the taking years to redo it. Nor do 1have that very special tool, an unlimited checkbook, that I can just take out and use any old time! With four of these cars, I have been able to do most of the work myself,and many people are surprised that I am able to undertake this type of work. But, as a friend commented to my husband,”Just be glad that she doesn’t collect steam engines!”

Thank you for your time and help!


(Couldn’t agree more with either of the above, and after all these cars were meant to be driven, and you can’t drive it, if it’s in ten thousand bits! As Valerie points out-if it’s safe to be on the road then get out there and trickle’ it as the weeks go by! —Ed)

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