The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (November 16 - November 30, 2014)
Sunday, November 16, 2014:
Hello, Georgia. 240 miles non-stop today from Charlotte, NC, to Hiawassee, GA. The first two hours is mostly expressway at 75-80 MPH. Then head north from I-85 for 18 miles of no-passing on SC-24, followed by 53 miles of the most delightful mountain roads on US-76W.
Meet Edward Wesson in Hiawassee, GA, and see one of his favorite toys, his Jaguar E-Type.
Then we are joined by Edward's friend, Charlie Rollon, and we shortly scamper off to dinner at a local sports grille, Chevelles in Hanesville, NC. Yes, we do cross back and forth across the state line several times in just an hour or so. On the return trip we stop at Charlie's workshop to see a few of his cars. The one of most interest tonight is the Triumph TR7 which is recently restored and finally running without oil leaks (is that possible?). Photo below right proudly illustrates a special manual choke adaptation created by Edward, consisting of a large sliding choke plate and pull cable (and it works very well).
We then had an extended discussion on Positive Crankcase Ventilation and Fuel Vapor Recovery System and Anti-Run-On Valve, none of which are hooked up to work (yet). Then there were a few more toys, the 1953 Mercury with flat head V8,
the Mercedes Benz Super Lite, the Porsche 911 Carrera, and the Triumph TR4. The TR4 is coming along quite well with a long way to go. (Psssst. Please don't tell anyone the fan blade is on backward).
Monday, November 17, 2014:
After a cool rainy night and a less cool sunny day, the evening will turn below freezing again as we make it to Lawrenceville, GA, to visit Larry Ice. Another friend Jack Orkin dropped in for a bit but left early. He is an MG Midget owner and President of the local car club.
I think Larry's garage/workshop is a little more organized than may first appear, just a little crowded. We have here the main body of a bugeye Sprite on a rotisserie. His driver MGB is parked off site. Not much to do directly with the cars here, but after dinner car chat runs deep into the night, and hopefully some guru magic is rubbing off onto the host. We spend the night here, and are planning for early morning departure.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014:
After some morning WiFi work we are on a short (20 mile) jaunt to visit Juliana "Puddin" Hughes in Atlanta. She is one of those rare women who owns her own MGB and loves the car. Kind of neat having two MGs snuggled up in the car port for a while.
Interesting background here as her father was a car dealer, and she got to drive all sorts of cars for many years. This MGB was in the family, last transferred to Juliana from her brother. It has since received substantial mechanical repair to make it a regular driver car, replacement doors and new brake parts among other things. She is a local club member and attends most club tech sessions when available. Today a test drive reveals soft brakes and low fluid, so there are plans for some tinkering with the MGB tomorrow. Lots of MG chat happening before and after dinner.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014:
Add brake fluid, bleed brakes a bit, and verify brakes are working (test drive). Also time for a carburetor tune up, as it was running very rich. Had to un-stick one stuck fuel jet, adjust fuel mixture, and adjust choke linkage, now running very well. There is a bit of "dirty mayonnaise" (emulsified water and oil) in the valve cover, indicating lack of crankcase ventilation. It is a 1971 model MGB, but has carburetors from an earlier model. So this one needs replacement of the missing PCV valve assembly (rather than replacing carburetors with later model carbs).
I would like to say, Juliana is one of the better students, anxious to learn, very attentive to details. We spent time making lists of parts required for future maintenance, discussing electrical schematics and electrical debugging procedures. She won't be doing all maintenance herself, but she wants to now how things work when dealing with those who may be doing the work. She also appreciates the local club tech sessions.
Thursday, November 20, 2014:
One last fix for Juliana's MGB. The "brush" spring loaded contact for the horn push has broken the connector wire. Considering how this works, we opt to use a light weight AC line cord for the repair wire (because it is handy). Strip the insulation, and pull about half the wire strands from the cable. You need thin flexible wire strands for this application, as the wire has to flex when installed.
Compare the thickness of the newly formed wire with the original one to have sufficient current capacity. Also measure length of the original wire as it was before it broke as the replacement wire needs to be about the same length (definitely not too long). Use a soldering iron to remove the broken wires from both metal brushes. Solder the new wire first into the longer metal brush. Install the compression spring over the wire, and then insert the brush, wire and spring assembly into the plastic tube.
Push the longer brush all the way into the tube so the wire end protrudes from opposite end of the tube. Secure this with a small clamp to hold the wire end exposed while you solder the shorter brush end to the wire. You may need to remove excess solder from outside surfaces of the brushes (sharp knife will do it). Then remove the clamp and insert the small brush into the tube, allowing the longer brush to protrude more from opposite end. When finished, drop the brush assembly into the hole in the steering wheel hub with short brush end down (away from the steering wheel). Position the horn push cover over the brush assembly, and snap the push cover into place. Expect the horn to sound when you do it, as it should be working perfectly at that time.
By afternoon we are traveling again, off to visit Terry Allen in Lexington, GA. Here we find hundreds of collectible cars, many of them on the small side of reality. But also a full size Mini (is there such a thing?), an MG TC, a couple of MGB a Land Rover, and an MGA (if you can find it). The car chat ran past midnight.
Friday, November 21, 2014:
Today we toddle along with Terry Allen to a secluded spot in rural Watkinsville, GA, accessible via a gravel road, a covered bridge, a few roller coaster hills, and a rakish driveway through a holler without a bridge. You figure it out, but welcome to Speedwell, and meet the gang for "Beer 30".
This is a combination service and sale shop with some cars resident here, some cars on consignment, and some just visiting. Inside we find an MGC and a TR3 for service. Out front a number of beautiful drive-in's.
Out back some more as I lost count. How many can you identify?
But now we have to bail out at 5-pm and head south. Mapquest said 3-hours, but nasty traffic claimed 4-hours arriving Columbus, GA, at 9-pm. Fortunately we have some chipper folks here, so we're not done yet. We first drop in on Keith Farley who has a BMW 2002 in his garage (more on this one tomorrow) and is awaiting return of his 1971 MGB from a service shop in Atlanta. After some local hospitality and a few phone calls, we truck along to meet Jim Walton with the 1963 pull handle MGB, which seems to have low oil pressure and a knock with cold start (more on this one tomorrow also).
Saturday, November 22, 2014:
Around 10-am a flock of MG enthusiasts converge on the garage of Phillip Clark who has a 1974 MGB, a TR4, another MGB, and an MG SA. People left to right: Jim Walton, Larry Stephen, Phillip Clark, Keith Treadwell (Keith Farley absent). The '74 promptly gets a carburetor tune-up, and Phillip now has the biggest grin.
The big 4-banger below is the standard engine for the TR4 (old tech tractor engine), while the compact little 3.4-liter General Motors V6 will be going into that spare MGB over there (Woohoo!).
The MG SA still has photos for remembrance, but is otherwise a long way from regaining its former glory.
Then it's time for a lunch break at the Speakeasy. After lunch we roll over to Keith Treadwell's place to ogle his '60 MGA, which also gets a carburetor tune-up. We notice of course that the fan blade is on backward.
After the car has been idling for some time, fully warmed up after the tune-up work, I begin to wonder why the coolant temperature is sitting calmly on 185dF on such a warm day. Then I realize it has the original cell core radiator, which Keith has had nicely reconditioned. You are now allowed to drool over the picture below right.
Then we hatch a plan to move Jim's MGB (with carburetors removed) over to Phillip's shop to remove the sump to inspect the rod bearings and oil pump to determine the cause of low oil pressure and knock when cold. Keith Farley goes looking for the keys to his trailer, but in the end a flatbed truck is summoned (compliments of Haggerty towing insurance).
Someone has noticed that my MGA brake lights are not working again (for the third time, RATS!). So we make a side trip to O'Reiley Auto Parts to pick up another pressure switch. Then back to Phillip's shop for the quick change, and the brake lights work again. Unfortunately the only switch I could get off the shelf today was another BWD, which is the type that failed in 8-wks 5346-mi (two months ago). The latest Standard Motors Products switch was about the same, 8-wks 4710-mi. Now I have to be actively searching for a different manufacturer.
While putzing around town we notice the BMW 2002 is smoking a little bit which seems to be a new phenomenon. So while we are waiting for Jim's MGB to arrive at Phillip's shop we investigate the Beemer. Aside from running slightly rich (which is easily adjusted), the rest seems to be generally in tune, but it is still idling rough. Compression test looks good, spark plugs and HT wires check out okay. However it has been loosing a little coolant, and with the compression test it appears to be spitting a little coolant out of #1 spark plug port. Oops! That will have to be a problem for another day.
Jim's MGB arrives shortly, and we get to work with jack and stands and hand tools to remove the sump in short order. We get the oil pump out for inspection, and all four big-end caps off (one at a time in turn) to inspect the rod bearings. Oddly though, the rod bearings are only marginally worn, and the oil pump is reasonably decent (will self-prime with mineral spirits wetting after cleaning). By now it is time to stop for dinner (barbecue this time), but procuring new rod bearing and gaskets will be top priority in the morning (even though it will be Sunday). Busy, busy day.
Sunday, November 23, 2014:
A slower day today, after a very late night (early morning) catching up with WiFi work. Jim has ordered rod bearings and gaskets for his MGB (on Sunday)
with some speculation that they may be delivered tomorrow (but don't hold your breath waiting). We do a bit of diagnostic work on the BMW 2002, finding low compression on #3 cylinder that will not recover with an oil squirt. We then find "dirty mayonnaise" under the valve cover and murky brown oil on the dipstick, indicating a head gasket leaking coolant into the sump. Bummer. Will find out tomorrow what Keith wants to do about that one.
After lunch, back to Phil's shop for a little while to clean parts for Jim's MGB, otherwise chit chat and kill some time. Then more WiFi time available, and we may get more sleep tonight for a change.
Monday, November 24, 2014:
Stationary day (so to speak). Catching up BBS and email tech questions, but mostly doing some work on the club web site. Jim's parts apparently shipped today, expect arrival late tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014:
Plenty to do to kill the day with WiFi work. Jim's parts arrive late day as expected. Convene work session in Phillip's shop 7:30-11:30 pm, install now con-rod bearings in Jim's MGB, button up the oil pump and sump, add oil, and crank it just 30 seconds to bring up oil pressure. Success so far. Jim still needs to re-install the carburetors before running again.
Have been having slow cranking problem with the MGA for a while, and it is getting worse. Been ignoring it as well as possible hoping for better weather, but tonight it takes the opportunity to inconvenience us (during a cold rain). Push start once before leaving town, then pay attention to grade slope when parking. No luck finding late night (all night) restaurant with WiFi, so we move north up the expressway a bit before stopping for the night.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014:
More time on WiFi and club web site work. Mid afternoon push start and head north some more. Shortly after sundown we arrive
at next appointment with Matthew Rossi in Woodstock, GA. He has a neat bug eye Sprite in good condition needing very little. His MGA looks nice as well, but is apparently in need of carburetor attention and a 2nd gear synchronizer? Well, we'll see. Tonight has time for dinner out, followed by late night chat. And tomorrow is, guess what? ....
Thursday, November 27, 2014:
Yeah, you all thought it was Thanksgiving day, which it is in the USA, but it is also my wedding anniversary. Wife is deceased for several years now, but I like to celebrate a little regardless. She was for a long time a big part of the MGA life style.
We had the good fortune of celebrating Thanksgiving with the Rossi clan. With a few "kids" and spouses and myself and navigator, we had 11 people around the dinner table.
In spite of the traditional celebration, we also got some things accomplished with THREE cars. First, I solved the push start problem with my MGA. A bit of diagnostic work turned up a dodgy Lucas battery cut-off switch, being the second failure of this type. I reconnected the battery ground cable from the switch to the chassis frame, reverting to original spec with no disconnect switch, and all is well with the world again.
Second item was to solve a front wheel wobble issue with the bug eye Sprite. To my surprise, this car has asymmetrical thrust ball bearings in the front hubs (which may be old hat for Sprite owners).
Both bearings in the LF hub were installed backward, a condition which could result in catastrophic bearing failure if it was driven hard. With the bearings installed correctly it is now up to par, so there is another happy Sprite back on the road.
Third item was a test drive in Matthew's MGA 1600. Not bad overall but it was running a bit rich in spite of both carbs being turned full lean. This is not an unusual condition, and it was solved by lowering the needles about 1/32-inch to give more mixture adjustment range, and then a standard tune up. Both chokes were (and still are) sticking, which is a chore for another time. Second gear synchronizer is somewhat weak on downshift. The clutch seems to have a little bit of slip on hard engagement, and there is a significant oil leak from the back of the engine (which may or may not be related). New synchro rings and clutch parts are on their way, and I think the engine and gearbox will come out tomorrow.
Friday, November 28, 2014:
A typical day in ye olde workshop. Extract engine and gearbox from Matthew's MGA. Clean and disassemble gearbox for inspection. Have a fun time trying to order parts on the day after Thanksgiving for next day (Saturday) delivery. Moss Motors was not shipping today, so we ordered parts from a couple other sources.
Typically worn layshaft, slightly worn 2nd gear synchronizer ring. Nothing to write home about, but good to be getting it fixed.
While it's apart and waiting for parts, take the opportunity to touch up the carburetors to un-stick the chokes. Clean jets, oil jet seals, re-center jet bearings and jets, and reassemble nicely limbered up carbs.
Saturday, November 29, 2014:
We reassembled Matthew's gearbox today. One significant new part problem was a layshaft procured from Engle Imports in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. It was too long from the front shoulder to the rear end, so when installed flush at front of the main housing it was protruding aft of the rear surface of the main housing. The gearbox cannot be assembled this way. Solution was to grind a bit from the tail end of the shaft to make it fit within the confines of the main housing. I believe the new layshaft was also slightly undersize in diameter, as it could wiggle a bit in the housing bore where the original shaft was a snug fit. I didn't get an exact measurement as there was no micrometer handy. Photos: Flush in front, protruding at rear, and recessed at rear after shortening.
We did some cleaning on Matthew's engine, installed a new felt front oil seal and timing cover gasket. Matthew took a drive in my MGA today and seemed to like the frisky feel of the car. The fat front sway bar has a significant effect on the character of the beast. My MGA also received another oil change today.
Sunday, November 30, 2014:
Today we reinstalled the geabox in Matthew's MGA. Couple trips to the hardware stores, and we replaced the spigot bushing in the rear end of the crankshaft. Rather than tap a pipe thread into it for pulling it out (the traditional way), the new trick is to plug it full of grease, then insert a 5/8 x 1-1/2" bolt, and smack it a few times with a 2-pound hammer. Hydraulic pressure is enough to push the bushing out where it will end up on the neck of the bolt. The engine will now wait patiently while Matthew does some cleaning and painting in the engine bay.
About that time Keith Farley and Jim Walton showed up in Woodstock with a flat bed trailer and the latest prize. The news of the day is, Keith really does have an MGB. Apparently he has owned it for several months, but friends were beginning to doubt it because they had never seen it. Keith finally got tired of waiting for service and decided to fetch it home from the shop near Atlanta.
After some socializing Keith and Jim head back toward Atlanta, while Elliot and I tag along to visit Jeff Jones on the eastern side of Woodstock. Jeff has a 1960 MGA in early stages of retoration. We spend some time chatting about techniques for rebuilding body sills, and what commercial panels may be bad or good. On leaving Jeff's place we stop for chow, as Elliot seems to have not eaten all day. Then we get a call from Keith saying the trailer had a flat tire and they were stopping for repairs. But they were far enough ahead that we were not going to catch up or pass them. Then we head on south to join Keith and Jim in Columbus.
On arrival in Columbus we find Keith and Jim fretting over the new toy. First problem is no starter. This turned out to be a couple of disconnected wires on the starter relay and on the starter motor solenoid. Then it would start, but could only continue to run with full choke and revs above 3000 rpm. Best guess here is a large vacuum leak around the intake manifold, but that issue will have to wait. Next discovery is the brake warning light is on after ignition is switched off and engine stopped. The pressure balance warning switch works okay, but the imbalance shuttle under the switch is stuck in the off-center position. This also will wait for another day, just unplug the switch connector to extinguish the warning lamp. Keith and I then spent an hour or so taking inventory of perhaps half of a few boxes of spare parts that came with the car. About 10:30 pm, late and cold and hungry we knock off for the night while navigator and I go foraging and find a room with WiFi for the night.