Author Topic: 1978 850 T3 Restoration  (Read 3774 times)

Offline texasmoto

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1978 850 T3 Restoration
« on: September 19, 2022, 11:24:44 AM »
Howdy   :cool:

Yesterday I picked up this ol' Guzzi for a couple hundred bucks. It has a title and doesn't look too trashed. Let another project begin!

I have a little bit of experience restoring old Honda CBs and one Honda CX. They were all really easy to get running again. I was hoping this would be a 'clean the carbs and put a new battery in and it'll run' kind of deal. Hah!

This bike is in a weird state of disrepair. It's got 30k miles. The previous owner didn't have too much to say, just that his son started to fix it. Apparently it ran great 20 years ago (didn't they all...)

The "damages":
- There is some corrosion in the left cylinder. The plug was out and the piston has rust on it. The motor isn't frozen. I think the chrome pistons are in there, I put a magnet in and got nothing.
- Removed/disassembled the handlebar switches.
- Disconnected some wires on right hand side and removed the headlight
- Disconnected petcocks from gas tank
- Left cap off the front brake master cylinder
- Rotors are rusted
- Spoke wheels are rusty
- The seat is missing hardware to attach it to the frame.

Besides the handlebar controls, it looks like everything is there for the most part.

I'm not sure where exactly to start on this restoration. Before starting on the path I want to ask if I should. Vintage motorcycles are cool, but I was all-in on purchasing a newer Guzzi for about $5000. Although, reviews I've seen online comparing the older ones vs the newer ones do show a strong preference for the older ones! Is this a year and model worth restoring?

Assuming so, here is what my strategy is:
I'm not committed to a full rebuild down to the frame. I like the little bit of patina it has, and the gas tank is incredible condition. I just want to get it reliably and safely riding. The engine could probably use a polish but there are no major scratches or deterioration. It's just not 'shiny'.

I have the factory service manual and a Haynes manual. These definitely don't seem as thorough as what I've seen with Japanese bikes. The Honda guides are step-by-step. At a quick glance these manuals are more along the lines of, "adjust to these specs and inspect it."  :grin:


So my current to-do list is:

1) Replace pistons. Question: Can I do this with the motor in the frame? Besides the factory service manual, are there additional guides I should consider? Will I need to send the head and pistons to a machine shop?
I'm assuming that this will also involve replacing gaskets, lapping valves, adjusting valve clearances, and setting ignition timing. 

2) Figure out what is going on with the electrical system. At the very least this will mean replacement handlebar switches (KZ900 seems to match?), new battery and whatever else I may find along the way. Watch this space! 

3) Fluids and carburetor clean - set float height but otherwise leave it all stock. Includes air filter. Oil filter.

4) Check ignition coils, replace spark plugs.
 
* At this point I would want to do a compression test. Let's assume it's good

5) Replace/restore brake system. I'll get a new master cylinder, new pads, maybe a new rotor. Rebuild the calipers if possible.

6) New tires. The rims are dirty but not rusty.

7) Get the seat permanently attached.

8) Replace/rebuild front and rear suspension

9) Done??











Offline texasmoto

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2022, 11:26:02 AM »
Here is an imgur link to some of the photos

https://imgur.com/a/qTPfCsq

Online Huzo

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2022, 12:08:12 PM »
Hi there and welcome.
There have been numerous “discussions” here regarding the pro’s and con’s of restoring a (relatively) “low value” bike.
I do not subscribe to the theory that says it’ll “end up costing more than it’s worth”, one bit. If you enjoy the process and do not necessarily expect to get back your outlay, then you simply cannot lose.
The “worth” of the bike is determined by the purchaser/new owner. My Norge is “worth” AUD 5,000 but AUD 50,000 would not secure it to a new owner.
Looking forward to your journey.
Just for the fun of it, search
“Fence post Guzzi” on this forum.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2022, 12:22:45 PM by Huzo »

Offline texasmoto

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2022, 12:17:43 PM »
Yeah I'm not trying to flip it or make money on it. That's not the barrier here.

It's more a question of if the juice is worth the squeeze. Are the old Moto Guzzi's considerably different than the newer ones to make it worth a restoration? I've never ridden one, new or old - and that's a lot of faith going into a restoration!

Wildgoose Chase Moto Guzzi

Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2022, 12:17:43 PM »

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2022, 12:27:01 PM »
Yeah I'm not trying to flip it or make money on it. That's not the barrier here.

It's more a question of if the juice is worth the squeeze. Are the old Moto Guzzi's considerably different than the newer ones to make it worth a restoration? I've never ridden one, new or old - and that's a lot of faith going into a restoration!
I had a Mk 2 Le Mans for a few years.
It didn’t stop, it didn’t “go”, uncomfortable, steered like the Exxon Valdeez, I left it home and rode the “good ones”.
Sold it in 5 minutes for more than I paid.






The new owner is welcome to it and he’s happy.

Offline cliffrod

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2022, 12:39:37 PM »
Welcome to WG. 

Plan on a full engine strip & inspection, then fixing or replacing everything as needed..  The engine will have chrome plated cylinder bores, not chrome pistons.  Chrome fails, so it has to be addressed.  Upgraded cylinder, piston & ring kits or replating your original cylinders with Nikasil are the two fixes for that issue.  The bigger issue is how much damage has or hasn’t been done by loose chrome bits in the oil impacting the rest of the engine.  Might be very good inside or it may be catastrophic.  Given the bike was parked and left out of service for ?? reason, it may be the latter…

The website ThisOldTractor is a great resource for related Tonti-frame Guzzi info for your bike.  There’s a couple of recent discussions here on the subject, including this thread.  It’s a must-read-

https://wildguzzi.com/forum/index.php?topic=115513.0

Your bike, your rules.  You don’t have to fix it all the way but if you keep it and plan to ride it, it will need to fixed all the way or it won’t last long. Doing the cylinders, pistons & rings and then assuming everything else will just be ok isn’t the best strategy with these early engines.  Btdt. 

If you’re worried about being upside$$$ down in the bike, plan on losing money (depending upon the level of resto vs simple daily rider fixing) or selling the bike as is.  My best friend and I always joked about our Italian bikes saying, “if you can’t afford to fix it, you can’t afford to won it.”   Maybe you won’t lose money if you do all the work yourself.  But it won’t be $500 including tires and you’re on the road like some old bikes.

Long ago I built my V7 Sport (all in pieces, frozen engine) with no prior Guzzi experience.  Glad I did it, but you have to go into it with a somewhat open wallet..


1973 V7 Sport  "Now THAT'S a motorcycle!"-  Master Sculptor Giuliano Cecchinelli
1967 V700 Corsa Record
1981 Lemans CX100
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Offline texasmoto

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2022, 01:34:57 PM »
Welcome to WG. 

Plan on a full engine strip & inspection, then fixing or replacing everything as needed..  The engine will have chrome plated cylinder bores, not chrome pistons.  Chrome fails, so it has to be addressed.  Upgraded cylinder, piston & ring kits or replating your original cylinders with Nikasil are the two fixes for that issue.  The bigger issue is how much damage has or hasn’t been done by loose chrome bits in the oil impacting the rest of the engine.  Might be very good inside or it may be catastrophic.  Given the bike was parked and left out of service for ?? reason, it may be the latter…

The website ThisOldTractor is a great resource for related Tonti-frame Guzzi info for your bike.  There’s a couple of recent discussions here on the subject, including this thread.  It’s a must-read-

https://wildguzzi.com/forum/index.php?topic=115513.0

Your bike, your rules.  You don’t have to fix it all the way but if you keep it and plan to ride it, it will need to fixed all the way or it won’t last long. Doing the cylinders, pistons & rings and then assuming everything else will just be ok isn’t the best strategy with these early engines.  Btdt. 

If you’re worried about being upside$$$ down in the bike, plan on losing money (depending upon the level of resto vs simple daily rider fixing) or selling the bike as is.  My best friend and I always joked about our Italian bikes saying, “if you can’t afford to fix it, you can’t afford to won it.”   Maybe you won’t lose money if you do all the work yourself.  But it won’t be $500 including tires and you’re on the road like some old bikes.

Long ago I built my V7 Sport (all in pieces, frozen engine) with no prior Guzzi experience.  Glad I did it, but you have to go into it with a somewhat open wallet..

Appreciate you all weighing in on this. I'm leaning towards putting it up for sale again because I'm not sure if a strip is too rich for my blood.

My biggest concern is a lack of clear information. Forums are fantastic but can be confusing as a newbie. I don't have enough experience in looking at engine components and determining if they are in good shape or not. I was hoping the factory service manual would be better than what it is!

Is there a literal step-by-step guide from removing the engine to rebuilding it? If so, I'd feel a lot more confident about proceeding.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2022, 02:14:38 PM by texasmoto »

Offline cliffrod

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2022, 02:25:49 PM »
Well before the internet, I rebuilt mine (although without adequate info to do the entire engine as I now recommend) with a factory manual, a Haynes manual a general knowledge of automotive engines and lots & lots of beer.   I did a partial fix, then got to do a complete more expensive fix within a short period of time.  If I had known, I would have only done it once.

Now, you can join a forum like this one and have access all the knowledge needed to fill any gaps.  These engines are not complicated.  They just need to be properly serviced.   

If you’re going to flip the bike, post an ad and sell it.  Lots of seemingly cheap Guzzi people here, mainly because we know how much it costs to put a bike like yours on the road. 
1973 V7 Sport  "Now THAT'S a motorcycle!"-  Master Sculptor Giuliano Cecchinelli
1967 V700 Corsa Record
1981 Lemans CX100
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Offline Antietam Classic Cycle

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2022, 04:09:18 PM »

Is there a literal step-by-step guide from removing the engine to rebuilding it? If so, I'd feel a lot more confident about proceeding.

Search "crabbing the frame" here, that will answer the "how to remove the engine".

Here's a nice "blog" on rebuilding a T3 engine:
https://www.thisoldtractor.com/projects_roy_smith.html
Charlie

Offline berniebee

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2022, 07:02:15 PM »
Not worth restoring this piece of crap. Because I like you, I'll take it off your hands for $150. Cash. :evil:

Offline Dave Swanson

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2022, 07:56:55 PM »
To sort that bike properly, and I'm not talking a restoration, you will have a 3 to 5K cash outlay and shed lots of blood and tears along the way. 

I have a 1980 T3 and a 2021 V7-850.  Both have that unmistakable Guzzi feel in spades.  I restored my T3 and went all the way with it.  I've had every individual piece in my hand and I am completely upside down on it, and could care less.  I love it. 

The V7-850 is just about the same as the day it rolled out of Cadre Cycle.  I have hardly turned a wrench on it. I love it

The 2021 is head and shoulders above the 1980 in every category you can try to measure.  Those intangibles that you can't put on a chart the T3 has by the bucketful, but the new one is not devoid of these un-measureable qualities either.

From reading your posts and reading between the lines, I think you will be much better off shifting the T3 and finding a late model Guzzi. 
« Last Edit: September 19, 2022, 08:06:29 PM by Dave Swanson »
Dave Swanson - Northern IL
1935 GTS
1968 V700
1973 V7 Sport
1974 Eldo
1977 Convert
1977 Lemans 1.2
1980 T3 California
1993 1000S - Sparklehorse
2004 V11S - Eraldo-ized
2016 Griso SE - Beetle-ized
2021 V7-850 Stone Centenario
2022 V85TT Guardia d'Onore

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Offline texasmoto

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2022, 09:11:49 PM »
Alright you bastards, just point me to this post when I'm $5k in and despondent. Thanks to the good community this seems to be, and the lowball $150 offer (which actually isn't far off from how much I bought it for) I. AM. IN

What's a bit of a rebuild between friends? I'm a vintage motorcycle enthusiast through and through. I looked at some 2015 models today and they just seem boring. Yes, I know they are wonderful machines and that makes more sense, but when has a motorcycle ever actually made much sense?  :grin: I have never just bought my way into a motorcycle! And yeah they were all Japanese but I figured those out. Moto Guzzi feels like upgrading to the next level. More difficult, more rewarding.

If any of you are near Austin, TX I'll trade you a 6 pack of Modelo for parts and labor any time. Ol' gal is already on the harbor freight lift in the garage.

Offline fotoguzzi

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2022, 09:52:02 PM »
More rewarding yes, more difficult than Japan? Nope. You’ll be amazed at how robust the machine is when you tear down that motor. There are very few special tools needed. Most parts can still be had. But for sure you need new cylinder bores and a complete inspection of the bottom end. How many miles are on it?
Here’s another really cool thing about the Tonti frame Guzzi.. interchangeability!  You can put a 2000 motor into a 1976 frame. So for about the same money as the refreshed 850 you could put in a used 1100.
Maybe for your second build?


MINNEAPOLIS, MN

Offline Scout63

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2022, 10:36:59 PM »
My ‘79 G5 cost me $200.00 and my friends told me to take it straight to the dump or get a tetanus shot.  The full restoration probably cost me 6k USD in parts and six months of my life.  I’ll never break even on the bike but the experience was priceless.  I think a T3 is absolutely worth saving and you will love the way it comes apart and goes together. If you go for it PM me and I’ll mail you an old copy of Guzziology.
Ben Zehnder - Orleans, MA USA
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Offline moto

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2022, 11:00:08 PM »
A T3 is a wonderful thing, a 115 mph tourer that has the handling of a notably heavy sport bike. Also, it accelerates like a locomotive. I think you'll find it addictive.

I've sunk untold thousands into mine. Couldn't be happier.

Welcome aboard, and have fun!

Just one quick tip: Greg Bender, at thisoldtractor.com, sells excellent wiring harnesses and can customize them to suit you. This can be a time saver and reliabilty enhancer.

Your bike looks pretty good to me. Slow and steady will win the race.

Moto
850 T-3
Griso 1100 corretto
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credit for 2500+ postings lost in the database meltdown of Feb 9, 2020

Online Huzo

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2022, 11:32:46 PM »
Alright you bastards, just point me to this post when I'm $5k in and despondent. Thanks to the good community this seems to be, and the lowball $150 offer (which actually isn't far off from how much I bought it for) I. AM. IN

What's a bit of a rebuild between friends? I'm a vintage motorcycle enthusiast through and through. I looked at some 2015 models today and they just seem boring. Yes, I know they are wonderful machines and that makes more sense, but when has a motorcycle ever actually made much sense?  :grin: I have never just bought my way into a motorcycle! And yeah they were all Japanese but I figured those out. Moto Guzzi feels like upgrading to the next level. More difficult, more rewarding.

If any of you are near Austin, TX I'll trade you a 6 pack of Modelo for parts and labor any time. Ol' gal is already on the harbor freight lift in the garage.
I love you…. :kiss:

Offline siabeid

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2022, 11:41:35 PM »
As the owner of several Guzzis, my 2 favorites are my v7 sport that I completely rebuilt from a piece of junk, and my T3 that I have had for 23 years. The v7sport rebuild is in the rebuild category on this forum under "fence post". I have a total of about $8500 and countless hours into that, but it could have been less if I didn't have to get a new tank or if I didn't have a nice paint job done. It got the Gilardoni pistons and nikasil  cylinders.  I got my T3 with only 9000 miles on it and in pretty good shape. Over the years it has evolved into a "sport tourer" with a lemans tank, a quarter fairing, sp handlebars, up rated suspension, Wixom saddlebags, etc. etc. At around 40,000 miles, I did a valve job, installed Gilardoni nikasil cylinders and pistons and replaced the clutch. It stops great, handles great and has enough power to run all day at 75 or 80 if the need arises. I would really like to ride a new small block 850, as on paper they are very similar, but the small block weighs about 100 pounds less. I love the old T3. From a financial perspective, the v7 sport was worth putting the money into. To me, the T3 would be worth it as well, though it will never have the $ value of a sport or lemans. It is, however, a  truly great bike in its own right. Not as collectible as a v7 sport or lemans, but they are starting to become uncommon. Guzzis are really quite easy to work on if you have any mechanical skills. I would certainly rebuild one if I found it as a project.

Si Abeid
Kettle Falls, WA

Online Huzo

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2022, 12:28:11 AM »
Please Siabed, don’t read this….

Siabed has what I consider to be a wonderful example of how the passion for a machine can morph into a quest from which you do not divert. In addition to his undeniable skills and determination, he is an example from which we can all draw inspiration.
If you follow Canuck 750 and Siabed (in addition to the input from others), you’ll not go wrong.
Did you read “Fence Post Guzzi” ?
The fact that his is a 750 Sport and as such very collectible is of secondary importance, that is only of any significance if you choose to pass it on and I’ll wager you may well not.
Welcome to “your bike” not just your bike….. :wink: :bow: :thumb:

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2022, 12:30:32 AM »
Not worth restoring this piece of crap. Because I like you, I'll take it off your hands for $150. Cash. :evil:
Piracy is alive and well…!
Take your buccaneers and off to sea with you..

Offline Dave Swanson

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2022, 07:03:00 AM »
Alright you bastards, just point me to this post when I'm $5k in and despondent. Thanks to the good community this seems to be, and the lowball $150 offer (which actually isn't far off from how much I bought it for) I. AM. IN



Good for you.  This money pit will hopefully bring you a lot of satisfaction.  I know all my restorations have.  I never tally all the receipts after.   :cheesy:

Here is my journey down the T3 restoration road. 

https://wildguzzi.com/forum/index.php?topic=105854.0



« Last Edit: September 20, 2022, 07:05:35 AM by Dave Swanson »
Dave Swanson - Northern IL
1935 GTS
1968 V700
1973 V7 Sport
1974 Eldo
1977 Convert
1977 Lemans 1.2
1980 T3 California
1993 1000S - Sparklehorse
2004 V11S - Eraldo-ized
2016 Griso SE - Beetle-ized
2021 V7-850 Stone Centenario
2022 V85TT Guardia d'Onore

MGNOC L-780

Offline steven c

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2022, 07:16:14 AM »
 Or just get a low mile EV, Stone, Jackal for $2000 to $4000. They are almost vintage now.
77 850 LeMan's
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Offline cliffrod

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2022, 07:37:06 AM »
Very cool. 

I think you’ll be fine with the rebuild.  The only info I couldn’t find/didn’t get when I did my bike was adequate advice regarding potential chrome-related damage inside the engine.   Now you can easily search this forum, ThisOldTractor and connect with all the info you need.

Try not to set yourself up for discouragement by creating absolute deadlines on the calendar or the budget.  Stay organized.  Stay focused.  Relax and be content to be doing it properly the first time.  My V7 Sport was my first “big” bike.  My latest hopefully simple CX rework is taking longer than I would prefer, but sometimes that’s how it goes.  When you get yours going and hear those carbs slurping & honking under your knees, you’ll get it.
1973 V7 Sport  "Now THAT'S a motorcycle!"-  Master Sculptor Giuliano Cecchinelli
1967 V700 Corsa Record
1981 Lemans CX100
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Offline texasmoto

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2022, 08:36:17 PM »
I got an old Haynes manual with the bike and looking through it today, it looks like I got pages 21-50 to get through. Not bad, I figure I can read 30 pages. It'll cover removing, inspecting and restoring the engine. They don't have a hell of a lot of pictures (which is my preferred reading grade) but I figure step-by-step and slow-and-steady wins the race.

My next move is to get some large shelves and boxes to keep everything in order as it comes off. After that I'll be ordering the Gilardoni piston/cylinder sets from MGCycle (800 buckerinos and multiple weeks to arrive! What a deal!  :grin:)

In the meantime, are there any recommended tools I could order before hand? I'm planning on picking up some Mitutoyo calipers, a new set of feeler gauges and a parts washer (ditched my last one ages ago and haven't needed it until now). To be fair these will not be included in the final invoice that I will be sending to all of you.

Offline n3303j

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2022, 09:10:35 PM »
You can do a complete top end on that engine by removing the fuel tank and the headers.
You do not have to remove the engine to "top" it.
If you find no signs of damage on the bores probably no chrome flakes went through the engine.
You have to pull the oil pan to change the oil filter.
This will let you get a good view of the bottom end.
Still havent pulled the engine.
Clean the carbs and the air passages.
Change all the other oils and fluids too
Change the air filter (it's a demon) and fire it up and see what happens.
Wheels are aluminum, spokes are stainless and nipples are brass.
No rust there, just a collection of dirt. That rim lip holds dirt.
Probably have to rebuild all 3 calipers with new pucks and seals.
Master cylinder bores may be pitted (either sleeve or MG Cycle).
I paid $3K for mine and it didn't look as good as yours.
So far it's carried me 92,000 miles.
I'm replacing timing chain out of guilt (engine still in frame).
Not that I haven't had the engine and transmission in the cradle.
Just that alot can be done without pulling it out.
'98 MG V11 EV
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Offline fotoguzzi

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2022, 09:15:27 PM »
32mm deep socket for crank nut



Make your own fly wheel locking tool



An engine stand is a real luxury




Hoist, another luxury




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Offline fotoguzzi

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2022, 09:27:45 PM »
Make a clutch alignment tool





It will save you from warping the ring gear when you assemble cutch




Old timers put a hose clamp on the oil filter to keep it from coming loose in the sump.



« Last Edit: September 20, 2022, 09:30:29 PM by fotoguzzi »
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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2022, 09:32:34 PM »
Replace the rubber block tensioner on the timing chain with a Valtec (MGcycle)

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2022, 09:39:56 PM »
A clutch alignment tool is key whenever you get into the engine.  A rear main seal driver is also very handy. I bought mine from MG Cycle. A test light and multimeter are really helpful for the old wiring.
Ben Zehnder - Orleans, MA USA
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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2022, 09:47:52 PM »
32mm deep socket for crank nut

Short nose crank and a ring nut, so that socket won't work. This one will:
https://www.mgcycle.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=80&products_id=840
Charlie

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Re: 1978 850 T3 Restoration
« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2022, 10:33:56 PM »
Ok but I usually butchered the nut with a drift and hammer, then replaced with the 32mm nut.
I was either too cheap or didn’t know about the ring nut tool.
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