The MGB Armstrong hydraulic lever shocks are one part that I imagine doesn’t tend to get the maintenance they really require. In reality all you have to do is unscrew the oil filling plug and keep the oil topped up. It appears as though this simple piece of maintenance is often overlooked.
In the case of my 1967 MGB GT there are no notes in my father’s records that indicate this procedure was ever performed. One of the shocks seems to work well but the other has no resistance and certainly needs a refreshing. The easiest way to refresh the front shocks is to buy refurbished ones from Peter Caldwell at Worldwide Auto Parts. He rebuilds them better than new for under $100 each.
Being cheap (or having already spent too much money) I’ve decided to take the shocks apart and do a basic refresh. Hopefully this will give them a couple more years of life! If not Peter Caldwell will get an order.
To access the inner oil chamber you need to remove the 8 screws holding the cover plate down. I managed to save the sealing gasket when removing the plate but I might cut a new one when I reassemble the shock.
This is the inside of the MGB Armstrong lever shock that wasn’t working properly. This shock has lost about half its oil so this isn’t too surprising. Once I clean the mess up and add new oil I expect the shock will work again unless internal damage was done.
The oil I drained from the shock looks like it came from a toxic waste site. It also smells terrible, does oil go bad? All those shiny specks of silver are very fine zinc (or possibly aluminum?) powder, obviously wear to the shock body.
There is also a very fine metal sludge on the inside of the shock. It’s recommended to not use any solvent when cleaning this mess up so I’ll use cheap light weight oil and rinse out as much of the sludge as possible.
The last step is to remove the shock valve and piston. These are the components and they look to be in good shape. I’m not sure if replacements would be available.
The MGB Armstrong Lever Shock that was working correctly has close to the right amount of oil in it although I expect even this is a little low. From first appearance there doesn’t appear to be nearly as much fine metal floating around but I’ll find out when I clean the shocks with oil.
Here’s the oil I drained from the working shock. There’s little fine metal dust apparent but big globs of something have been floating around.
Tomorrows job? Time to clean these ugly shocks and refill them. Stay tuned for the second installment.