Tech Tips: Spring 1999

My tip concerns the removal of stuck pistons from brake cylinders. Air pressure usually works, but then you spend the rest of the afternoon looking for the parts on the floor!

I have taken some old brake line nuts and drilled them out then tapped them to take grease fittings. Now, with a grease gun, I can jack them out and no parts escape.

Of course, you’ll need to be sure to clean all the grease out of the cylinder, but if you had to resort to this process, you’d probably be having the cylinders sleeved anyway.

—Kenneth Taplin, Blue Hill, ME.

In spite of needing a little cosmetic work, my little ’71 MGB GT is always running and 95% reliable, except when my girlfriend takes it for a spin!

Our problem was the alternator light. If the red dash light does not engage when the key is turned, the alternator does not get the signal to begin to do its job (i.e., run lights, blinkers, heater, wipers, and charge and battery). The culprit was the bulb!

To prove my point, you can follow the brown alternator wire directly to the bulb in the dashboard. Had I known then what I know now, I would have stocked up a small pile of these tiny lights and attended to a needed replacement immediately.

Perhaps this tip will keep other enthusiasts “out of the dark,” as other owners, local parts stores, and even our mechanic were surprised at this finding.

—Mark Ramsey, Duncan, SC.

I wanted to swap a couple of wires in a harness today, and some folks might just dig out the wire cutters and crimp, or solder, or tape. I’ve assembled many connectors where you crimp the pins onto the wires and then insert the pins into the socket.

If you find you’ve goofed, you dig out the disassembly tool and remove the errant pin. However, virtually all of these common electrical multi-pin connectors are built the same way. There is a barb (or two) on the pins that compress while the pin is being inserted into the socket, and then spring out when the pin is sealed, thereby preventing them from being pulled back out. The disassembly tool is simply a thin-walled metal tube on a handle. The tube is just large enough to fit over the pin, yet small enough in diameter to fit into the pin’s socket. You simply slide the tool over the pin, which compresses the barbs, and the pull the pin back out of the socket. It’s simple when you see it!

OK, so what about our LBCs? A simple disassembly tool is available to every one of us already, on our cars. It’s the metal innards of a single wire bullet connector coupler. Just take one of the couplers, slide the metal tube about halfway out of the rubber sleeve and…voila! You’ll find the tube is just about a perfect fit for slipping over the pins in the various connectors in the wiring harness to compress the barbs. This is also a convenient way to isolate one circuit without having to pull a part a major connector. The pins slip back in quite easily with no tools required. Leaving the rubber sleeve on the tube makes a convenient grip.

—Bud Krueger, Plymouth, MA.

When storing your car, one sure way I have found to maintain the battery charge is to connect my charger to a light/appliance timer. The timer is set for one hour a day. Even though my battery charger says it will not overcharge a battery, with the timer attached, it won’t get the chance!

—Tim Castricone, Alexandria, VA.

When you replace the anti-freeze mixture in your car, you are sometimes faced with the difficult problem of removing the thermostat housing, especially if the cover has been in place for many years, and someone had previously used a hardening sealant on the gasket!

Almost all of our older British car thermostat covers were made of cast metal and will break if hammered too hard, so reasonable care is in order when removing the cover from the studs.

The drilling of the threads for the retaining studs are often drilled through to the coolant area, and without some sort of sealant on these threads, coolant will seep past the threads, causing corrosion around the studs. This will make removal of the cover even more difficult!

When the cover is eventually removed, remove the studs and clean them well. Remove the remnants of the old gasket and put some Teflon paste (not tape) in the threads before installing the studs in the cylinder bead or intake manifold.

Once installed, apply a coating of anti-seize material on the studs before installing the cover and retaining nuts. There is really little need to apply any type of sealant to the gasket, but if you feel the need, DO NOT use KTV or any other type of sealant that will harden. Use a non-hardening type of sealant such as Hylomar from Permatex.

—Bob Mason, Fairhope, AL.

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