All posts by Max

About Max

I recently graduated from Albertson College of Idaho and have moved back home to the great NorthWest. I currently working for Northwest Technology in Ferndale Washington as their web developer.

VTO 15″x6″ Classic Spline Drive Wheels for the MGB

My 1970 MGB in British Racing Green wearing new shoes. 15"x6" silver wheels with 8 spokes coming from the center hub.

Late last summer I needed to use the freeway to get where I was going and my wire wheels gave me quite the scare. At specific speeds the steering wheel vibrated so much it was not enjoyable. Unfortunately, the speed limit, 70MPH was one of the shakier speeds. Truing the wheels at their age is not something I wanted to undertake and no local shop wanted to take on the job, so I started to look at other options.

While the MGBs with bolt on wheels seem to have a lot of options, the spline drives either have new wire wheels either painted or chrome, vintage used wheels, or fairly expensive alloy wheels. The MG Experience as always was a valuable resource and the 15″x6″ VTO Spline Drive Classic 8 wheels kept showing up in my research.

The Wheels

These are sold by Acme Speed Shop. After speaking with the owner on the phone I made the decision to buy a set. The sale, shipment, and follow-up advice from Hap was fantastic. As I was replacing a set of center lock wheels that I had used for 20+ years I knew the spline hubs would also need replacing. That meant this would not be a knock-off the old set and knock-on the new. In addition, these wheel are 6″ wide, compared to the stock 4.5″.

A stock 4.5" wire wheel placed within the width of the replacement 6" wheel. The stock one also has the wire wheel entry points whereas the new one is smooth.

That meant new tires were in order as well. In the photo you can see how much larger the VTO wheel is compared to a stock 14″x4.5″ wire wheel. As a bonus of moving away from the wires, that meant no more tire tubes. I know you can buy new wire wheels that don’t require tubes, either way I am glad to not have to carry a spare tube.

Tire Selection

A wheel mounted to the rear passenger side to determine clearance.

Upon receiving the wheels, I wanted to mount the rear passenger one first to begin test fitting. On MGBs, the rear axle is not always located dead-on center, and on mine, the passenger side is closer to the rear wheel arch than the driver side. The wheel of course mounted just fine, but determining the tire size required a few trips back and forth to the tire shop. I am lucky to have a nice store manager at a local Les Schwab that worked with me to find the right tire size and was ok with me returning to swap to a different size. I really wanted to get a tire as wide as possible. What worked for my car was 175/65R 15 tire. Annoying, in a way, the larger 185/60R 15 tires tucked in, but only barely could I get a pinky finger between the inside edge of the wheel well and the tire. Those tires were $50 less per tire but I didn’t want the tire to scrape.

The 175/65R 15 tires fit nicely. With a passenger I occasionally get a little rubbing from that rear tire when the car leans hard. I hope to fix that by fitting refreshed Koni shock absorbers this winter. If you are interested in doing this conversion I would start with 185/60R and hope for the best. If they are just too wide, go down to 175. Perhaps you will get lucky and they will fit. Online it seems many ambitious owners roll the inner wheel arch lip to gain the extra clearance they need. That wasn’t for me but it is another option to explore. You can also center your rear axle but that is another project.

Test fit with 175/65R 15 tire. Fits well. The old silver brake drum can be seen between the spokes.

Replacing the Hubs

I have had to take off the front hubs before when replacing worn kingpins and it was a new experience for me at the time. The shimming to get the right clearance is not hard but does require patience. With the spline drive hubs being so long, it is difficult to quickly swap shims, so you end up taking everything apart, putting it back together, several times. More than once I was doing it backwards as I was not being patient with myself. The rear hubs, I had never touched.

Tools Needed

It turns out, I needed a few special, to me, tools.

  • 1 5/16″ socket
  • 1 1/8″ socket or 30mm
  • 3/8″ to 1/2″ socket adapter
  • Bearing race installation set

I first mistakenly thought it as a 1 15/16″ socket, which was much too big. The process for the rears working on on one side at a time is to remove the wheel, back off the rear brake pads, remove the drum, remove the cotter pin within the hub and the big nut, then you break the nut free. That all sounds simple enough, on my car this first nut was torqued. I broke my 3/8″ breaker bar, just snapped the part that holds the socket clean off. I ended up using a 4′ pipe over a 1/2″ socket and that finally broke it free. I then had to go buy a new 1/2″ breaker bar which I used on the other side and nothing broke.

Once you have the nut free, there is a tapered washer that you can’t really tell is there, but if you don’t knock it loose then the hub is not going anywhere. I was able to use a punch right on the head of the axle stub and after a few hard knocks it vibrated the washer loose. Then using a pick, I was able to spin it off. I forgot this on the second side and spent a lot of time trying to get the hub off. So, make sure you get the tapered washer off. After that, the hub did come off. It was a bit of gentle coercion. I found a tip online of putting a knockoff ear back on and then knocking it from behind the best you can, and once the decades of being in one place was jarred loose, it really did slide off pretty good.

MGB red rear brakes showing but no rear hub. It has been removed. There is a rear axle stub right in the center.

One more surprise

With much elation I opened up the box with the new rear hub and discovered on the center lock setups, the brake hub studs are part of the hub. With my trusty sledge hammer I was able to knock the studs from the original hub out but I couldn’t get them back in. It just was a no-win effort. I didn’t have any luck with double nutting them, using air tools, just didn’t have the right method. I called a shop that had helped me in the past with a few things and they stepped up and helped me for a nominal fee to press the original studs into my new hubs. That added a day or two for each rear hub with drop off, pickup, etc.. It had not occurred to me that part needed to be done.

I also had to install the new rear bearings. That was something I had never done before. Locally, AutoZone, a car parts store, does a tool rental program, so their universal kit worked great for me. I had to put a deposit down for the cost of the tool if I bought it outright, then used it to put the new bearings in. I test fit the hub at first to make sure I had them fully seated, it is hard to tell. Then I was able to return the tool and get my deposit back. If any vendor wants to sell fully assembled, with bearings and wheel studs installed, please make that an option for us who probably will do this job once in our lives.

While waiting for the hubs to have the brake drum studs pressed in, it was a great time to clean up the outside of my brake drums. Years ago, I had painted them silver as I liked how you could catch glimpses of the color through the silver wire wheels. Certainly, they showed a lot of fun experiences. I choose to go with a semi-matte black this time around. Just store shelf caliper paint. I wire brushed the old silver paint and after wiping it down a few times added a few new coats of black.

A brake drum speckled with old silver paint and rust sitting on a 1x6 block of wood. All prepared to receive fresh black paint.

Putting the new hubs back on in the rear went very smoothly. I was rather surprised. After adding some new grease to the axle stubs, the new hubs slide right on, I put the tapered washer back in, the nut, torqued it, the cotter pin, and then wrestled the newly freshened up brake drum back over the shoes, adjusted them, and that was that. While coming up with all sorts of news for things when taking the rear hubs off, just remember going back might be just a pleasurable experience.

The new hub, gleaming silver, against the freshly painted black mounted brake hub.

On to the Front

The fronts, I had done once before, and was excited not to have to deal with terror of banging new bearing races in and hoping I wasn’t somehow destroying the new hubs, no wheel studs to get pressed, but, news to me, I never realized the front hubs are attached to the front brake rotors. Removal is straight forwards, remove the brake caliper captive nut metal tab system, unbolt the caliper, set out of the way, I put mine on a box next to where it mounts, remove the cotter pin, remove the nut, get the split tab washer loose, again hitting the axle stub with a punch worked pretty good, and then wiggle and tug, until the whole mess falls out.

Unbolting the brake rotor from the hub wasn’t to hard, just awkward to find ways to keep the bolt from spinning. Once they were free, I cleaned the threads and nuts up, and then sprayed the caliper on each side with the caliper paint I used on the rear drums. I opted to reuse my rotors as they were well within safety margins and bolted those to the new hubs.

Reassembly was straightforward, I did something wrong with a split tab washer, somehow missing the slot for the tab and then upon tightening the nut, broke the tab. Ugh…. I had to order a new one as I didn’t have one of those laying around in my spares. I also at one point was shimming backwards and couldn’t get it it to be proper, because I was doing it backwards. The nice people on were of course encouraging because the job is just, unique. For anyone doing it that does not do the work routinely, give yourself space and it is ok to try several times. The John Twist video on the front hub assembly was a great tool, certainly watch it. Here in these two photos you can see the fronts mounted. In the first photo, the car is still on jack stands, there is not normally a foot of space between the top of the tire and the front fender wheel well.

Front wheel mounted on a new hub.
Driver side front wheel mounted on the new hub.

A great Winter Project

The wheel and hub replacement was a great winter project for me. I had to order several things and ship a few parts back, so if I had to have completed this in short order it would have been frustrating. Not to say aspects of it was not. I don’t like breaking tools, I don’t like the unease of using tools I have not used before, it certainly was an experience for me. I personally learned a lot and thanks to my family for assistance and patience, the suppliers who helped and provided feedback, and for the great MG enthusiast community.

Driving has been an absolute blast. There is hardly any noise in the steering wheel any longer, cruising at freeway speeds is smooth, and even with the wider tires, turning is not difficult. The response is fantastic. If you are looking for a wire wheel alternative, this is a good one.

Creating a WARC archive for a WordPress Blog

I have been working on a few new concepts for but wanted to create a copy of what the site, mostly the blog, before implementing these new ideas. My blog has been around for a long time and I don’t like the idea of deleting a lot of my writing. One day my family may want to read it. In my daily work I have some experience creating site copies but I had not tried it with a blog. For the longest time as a web developer I have been ok with my work being ethereal, a site or project is built and then it is a living entity changing each and every day, occasionally being rebuilt entirely with no semblance of the prior work existing. I am not sure I am comfortable with that concept any longer as more and more of the web I grew up with and the parts I created are lost.

The primary goal was to create a copy in the WARC format. WARC is the Web Archive File format. For a long time it has been straightforward to create a WARC file but cumbersome to view. Using the command line utility wget creating a copy of a site is straightforward.

$wget --mirror --convert-links --adjust-extension --page-requisites --no-parent --warc-file="name-of-file-you-wish-to-create"

The awesome Archive Team has a nice write-up on using wget for just this purpose and importantly the why behind using the WARC format.

Once you have your site generated as a WARC you can store it in your favorite backup destination as well as someplace else just in case that copy gets destroyed. You can view it at anytime by using the amazing service. It is part of the great Web Recorder project.

Go forth and create personal archives of your writing and work.

Home Projects

I recently moved into a new home after living for nearly six years in another. In those six years I got everything fixed and had a plan for what to do next. I hope to document the fixes in this new house and share the progress as I learn some new skills. This house is much older though has been lovingly maintained and updated over the decades.

I like small maintenance fixes like these. I haven’t glazed a window in a long time, probably with my Dad when I last did it. Time to start my own collection of glazier points.

The co-ax cable jumble will be solved using this nifty tool. The tone tester is going to be useful so that I can label which cord goes to which room. For an old house, it seems to have a co-ax cable in nearly every room.

The outlet box hopefully just needs a little caulking and the screws securing it to the wall moved a little bit.

Since starting this draft, some small fixes/upgrades have been made. A little sink stopper was dropped in place in the middle floor bathroom and a dud light bulb was replaced. Just small stuff but it is moving forward. I also mowed the front yard and raked the flower beds for the first time.

A banjo player standing in front of an orange tinged sunset

For Folks’ Sake

My family and I have been attending the Juan De Fuca Festival of the Arts (JFFA) in Port Angeles, WA for many years. Due to COVID-19 it was suspended for this year. We decided to fill our home with folk/Americana/Celtic music purchased at JFFA from artists over the years and share our favorites here.

While one of the best parts of JFFA is finding new favorites, we hope this list lets you find a new favorite yourself. Share your favorites in the comments.

Rosie & the Riveters

We saw them live at JFFA last year and loved the mix of music and political commentary in the lyrics. Buy their album and they will invest 20% of the profits into women’s projects and businesses. Just remember to Ms Behave

Laura Love

Laura has been touring for what seems like a long time. We have seen her perform a few times and each time is special. The folk songs she weaves are worth the listen.

Scott Cook

Personally my favorite act I have ever discovered at JFFA. He has been back one more and we were thrilled when he stopped on tour through Bellingham. In each setting his music has been authentic and easy to connect to. It also makes you think. His new album is coming out soon, pre-order it now. Order One More Time Around as well to listen to my favorite song of his,

Derina Harvey Band

What a wonderful show and powerful music. Derina Harvey Band was a blast to listen to. The recordings are much like the live performance. They have a new single out, Northern Lights of Labrador. The song in the video is one we enjoyed live.

Jim Page

Technically, we saw Jim at the Oregon Country Fair several years ago, but it fits right into the JFFA vibe so I am going to pretend he would have been there this year. We listened to Seattle Songs this weekend. He has what seems to be an unrivaled catalog, check out the songs/albums and support Jim.

Brook Adams

Another, non-JFFA music favorite, that should be at JFFA. I met Brook through my boss at the time and his original music is entertaining, makes one think, and is darn fun. Go buy some music.

Moira Smiley

A lyrical voice and the coolest rhythms. We have only seen Moira once but it was memorable. She has a lot of albums, but this is the one that got us hooked.


So. Much. Fun. Polecat is always a blast with cool instrumentals and being on the front of the beat. They have a deal right now, four albums for $25. This is something great to do while social distancing, have a personal dance party with Polecat!


Fiddle. Celtic. Rock. If you have not heard of the PaperBoys, well, that is ok. Do yourself a favor and buy their album Calithump. We have seen them at JFFA, Bellingham, and even at a local arts place in Lynden, WA. A joy to listen too.

Dustbowl Revival

This was a great surprise. We were at a stage just getting some food and Dustbowl Revival started their set. We danced away the whole set. They also appear to be doing virtual music festivals over the summer. Tune in for great music.

The Sam Chase and the Untraditional

Really fun music. Lots of instruments. I believe they have made it to JFFA more than once. I believe they are from the San Francisco area, they certainly have a more relaxed approach to folk music. They have a new album out that they describe as a Faustian spaghetti western rock opera. I can’t wait to hear it.

Lindsay Lou

While I have not had a chance to listen to Lindsay’s new music, we were hooked when she showed up and played as Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies. The album Ionia is fantastic. The song “The River Jordan,” is my second favorite from all of the music listed here only to Scott Cook’s “Pass it along.” I am excited to purchase and listen to her newer works.

Driver Seat Rebuild + Heated Seat

KK-Louise’s front seats have been in need of some help for quite some time. I had some nice seat covers I purchased probably when I first came into possession of KK, some fifteen years ago helping me ignore the need. However, as my daily driver the seat I sat in really needed some attention as I could no longer get comfortable. I ordered a set of horsehair pads from Wolfsburg West and some new oatmeal seat covering as the originals lasted nearly fifty years. I have heard the injected mold pads might be a bit more comfortable but were hard to get the covers over. As I was at this project I figured I would try to add some heated seat elements to the back and bottom as well. I found a set on ebay that sound good and installed those as well.

A '71 VW Van seat with a torn corner and pretty much no more padding on the seat.
This is my original driver seat with the back laying on a pair of sawhorses.

Since so much of the seat was gone it was easy to deconstruct. The hog rings that held the cover to the frame were few and far between and came apart with some pliers. The pads went into the garbage but I hung onto the original covers. I am thinking of making some sort of center console and covering it with these remnants. Something will need to hold the heated seat switches.

The frame was in good order. I thought something would be broken as it had been so uncomfortable the past several months but it was just that the pads were mostly gone. I put some seat felt over the bottom (also ordered from Wolfsburg West), the new pad, and then some more felt which I sprayed with adhesive to stick to the pad. I wrapped it with a few bungees to secure it and let it dry. While that was happening I cut the bottom seat heater to size and placed it making sure the wire would run under the seat and out towards the passenger seat as I plan to run the wires up the center of the floor.

The bottom pad in place with felt over it. Bungee cords strung around the outside to hold it all in place.
The bottom pad with felt over it ready for the seat heater element.
The seat heater in place within the middle of the seat. It is white ceramic.
Seat heater pad in place.

The new seat cover itself went on pretty easily. There was a little tugging and pulling but I was able to secure it with some new hog rings and make it feel tight. I had set the seat out on the roof of the bus in the sun to soften up a bit while I was working on the pad. I was worried that the felt would get rolled up while putting the cover on but the glue did what it was supposed to do and kept it all in place.

The back of the seat was much the same as the bottom. The driver side seat has a back covering the frame, the passenger side does not. Getting the cover to go over the frame squarely was the most challenging task. Once I get to the passenger side, it doesn’t have a a cover on the back so I expect it to be easier.

Back pad installed with felt over it and heater pad positioned.
The back pad, felt, and heater pad in place.
Newly reupholstered seat installed back in the van, looking at it from the side.
Installed back in KK-Louise.
The seat in the bus looking at it through the front windshield. Mostly square.

The seat reupholster project went really well. The seat in once again comfortable and warm. I will write-up the heated seat wiring soon. I look forward to completing the passenger seat as currently it pitches passengers forward making longer rides a bit uncomfortable.