The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (January 1, 2015 - January 15, 2015)
Thursday, January 1, 2015:
Happy New Year! Yes we got lucky and found the starting point in Davies along with half a dozen other cars. The cruise from here turned out to be a 35 mile shot up the interstate to a breakfast appointment with the Gold Coast British Sports Car Club. So we took the interstate down to Davie so we could take the interstate back up to Lantana? Just for breakfast? And we missed a New Years eve party and a New Years morning tour on the west coast. Must have the priorities wrong. Our other tentative appointment in the area was canceled when an MGA wiper motor problem was resolved before we got there. At least there were some nice British cars here.
The weather was damp and occasionally a bit dribbly this morning. To add insult to injury there was a pay-for-parking public lot with only a couple of electronic meters to serve hundreds of parking spaces. Here the credit card reader didn't work, so the machine was wasting lots of time as a dozen people were waiting in line, and one guy was on the phone to the cops to lodge a complaint. When the machine rejected my credit card I started stuffing it with quarters. $1.50 for an hour, and we needed two hours. After feeding it a dozen quarters it registered three hours. Go figure. Did I tell you I hate big cities?
At least it was a decent breakfast, but we only got to chat with a few people before it was breaking up. Then we're outta'ere. The first McD's near the expressway has no electrical outlets for the chargers, but a friendly customer clues us in that the Publix grocery store across the street has a sit-down deli with free WiFi and plenty of outlets. Exit stage left. After catching up we may need a little more sleep before our next venture.
Later in the day we toddle on up the road and end up on Lake Placid, Florida, for the night. Lots of sugar cane fields here. The local airport seems to be home to at least a dozen crop dusters.
Friday, January 2, 2015:
Okay so Lake Placid is known as "The Caladium Capital of the World", and 98 percent of the world's Caladium bulbs come from Lake Placid. This is what you get for leaving me free for a day.
Lake Placid is also known as "Town of Murals" with more than 40 murals painted on buildings. See lots more wall murals on a following page
There is also a lot of history in Lake Placid.
In addition to the murals, Lake Placid is also home to the American Clown Museum, which also happens to be a Clown School that has graduated over 1500 students. See lots more clown photos on a following page
Saturday, January 3, 2015:
Landed in Sebring FL for a day and did nothing constructive. Couldn't find anything about a museum at the airport with the Sebring race course, so didn't bother going there. Did add a couple of web pages and catch up with email and BBS.
Sunday, January 4, 2015:
A bit of an unexpected call and a side trip today to visit Joel Weinberger in Kissimmee, Florida. He has this nice TR6 that hasn't run for a few years and needs revival.
I'd rather push a TR than .... (how does that go?). It was pushed out of the garage long enough to rearrange some "stuff" and sweep the floor, then push it back in for a more suitable working position.
Cursory inspection says it's all there. Apply battery charger long enough to run fuel pump for a sample, which tells us the evil smelling stale fuel needs to be drained and replaced with some fresh fuel. Job for the morrow.
Tonight we travel a bit to catch dinner with some friends. Later night catching up with some web work. Then time to catch up with some sleep.
Monday, January 5, 2015:
Did some work on the TR6, but too busy to take pictures. I started by pumping out a few gallons of evil smelling stale fuel to empty the tank, then transferred a gallon of fresh fuel from my MGA to the TR6. Switching on the electric fuel pump resulted in a gusher from the front carburetor. Remove air cleaners, and remove front carb. Remove bottom cover, float and float valve which needed cleaning. Reassemble all, and then it ran on three cylinders. Good spark on all six, no fire in the rear three. Remove rear carb, remove bottom cover, dig sludge out of float chamber, clear clog out of bottom of main jet. Clean and reassemble, and now it runs on all six. Running rich, but I don't have the special tool needed to adjust mixture on the Stromberg carbs, so final carb tuning will wait for another day.
Tackle the right side door that won't latch on the final catch. That was just a fiddly adjustment of the striker plate on the body post. Then investigate why it unlatches from inside only. That turned out to be a missing pusher screw on the inside of the outer handle push button. I found a #10-32-UNF x 1 screw and jam nut to fit, but it needs a screw a half inch longer to work, which is a hardware store part but will have to wait for another day. Fun car to tinker with, but out of time and need to be somewhere else tomorrow, so goodbye to the TR6.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015:
Had some driving to do today like 6-1/2 hours going from Kissimmee to Panama City Beach (way up in the Florida panhandle) for 5:30 pm dinner meeting at Triple-J's restaurant with Bay British Cars. No one told use there was a time zone change in the panhandle, so we arrived an hour early (in T-shirts and shorts with warm weather). Well at least we weren't late. Nice meeting with about 30 people. Could be some things to do here, so we may have to return next week. Get another picture on the way out, starting to cool down in late evening.
After the meeting we headed back east, as we had another appointment on the east coast for the next afternoon, contemplating another 7 hours driving time. We drove some time following the gulf coast on US-98, pleasant and warm to start, enjoying sparse traffic and a full moon for good visibility. It soon turned cooler, the heater came on, and we broke out the sweat shirts. Then US-98 turned straight east. After a five hour drive it is about 40 degrees-F for our night stop in Alachua FL with still two hours to go. Did we really just drive 11-1/2 hours in one day?
Wednesday, January 7, 2015:
We did get several hours sleep but location for the next lunch appointment was changed on short notice. So we stopped for a WiFi connection to find the new restaurant location, about a mile north from original plan, but requiring a bit of a re-route. Between the WiFi stop, a slightly late start, and one miscue on a route direction,
we arrive 20 minutes late for the 1:00 pm lunch (and a bit tired). All is well with the world but we are now overdressed as it is back to T-shirt and shorts weather. Seems we now have our choice of climate in Florida. Say hello to 25 members of the All British Car Club of Volusia County Florida, meeting at The Golden Lion in Flagler Beach, FL.
Spent some time later negotiating with CMGC editor in Chicago about FTP software problems for transferring a large data file. Catching up with some WiFi work, travel a half hour west, and get some sleep.
Thursday, January 8, 2015:
Review mail and BBS early, but no news from CMGC editor yet. Then time to head west a couple more hours. Arrive mid afternoon in Spring Hill FL to meet Jay Gerding. That's his green MGB, and a TR8 with a nose bob. There is also a TR7 under a cover beside the MGB, and some spare MGB body parts hiding behind the garage.
The TR8 engine during assembly. Can't do much with that one immediately. The MGB (daily driver car) cylinder head with a burned exhaust valve, which we do intend to fix (maybe tomorrow). Tonight we have a casual dinner and nice chat. Late night the large data file from Chicago finally arrives (more work ahead).
Friday, January 9, 2015:
Half a day working on CMGC newsletter conversion from Publisher to web page format, and a late brunch. Then get to work on the MGB while there is still some daylight. Find a good used exhaust valve, and hand lap it into place (actually quick and easy). Reassemble valve spring parts, invert head, and pour in some thin fluid to assure the valves do not leak. Clean head and block, and install the cylinder head with new gaskets.
Install rocker shaft assembly, torque head bolts, adjust valve clearance, assemble manifolds (and the Weber carburetor). Interesting alternator brackets (but it works okay). Top off the fluids, and it runs (but runs better after connecting the brake booster hose). Ignition lamp glows brighter with increasing engine speed. Oops, looks like the alternator (still under warranty) is going back to Autozone tomorrow. "It's always sumpthun". Time for dinner and some club chat, then BBS and email and some tech Q&A, and posting these photos and notes.
Saturday, January 10, 2015:
Morning cruise to meet a car club called Nature Coast English Car Club/Sun Coast Classic MG Club (the club with two names) for a breakfast meeting at Glen Lakes Country Club in Weeki Wachee, FL. I was accompanied by Jay Gerding, the bloke I have been staying with for a couple of days. He is retiring President of the club about to assume position of Secretary and Webmaster.
The collection of about 15 British cars in the parking lot was fun (ignore the Ferrari). The car that caught my eye here was the classy looking MGB GT with stripes from the European edition of the Golden Jubilee model.
Once indoors we met 60 or 70 club members, which may have been a record turn out. It was a nice day in Florida, and they were in the process of formally changing the club by-laws for organization, and they had nomination and election of new officers, and a special guest called MGA Guru (well publicized in advance). It was a good meeting, followed by some tech questions, and followed by resumption of the tech session and tire kicking in the car park.
En-route "home" to Jay's place, we stopped by NAPA to pick up a case of oil and oil filter in preparation for my next oil change. A bit later Jay was taking his duff alternator back for warranty exchange and getting the daily driver MGB running again. I was taking most of the rest of the day to convert and post the January newsletter on the CMGC web site. Another long day, but made a bit easier by a very fast WiFi connection at Jay's place.
Sunday, January 11, 2015:
Maintenance day. MGA gets another oil change, filter and lube. The new(ish) tires are looking great after 6400 miles (no more wheel bearing or alignment problems). Spark plugs looking good at a mere 32,000 miles. Mallory Dual Points distributor looking good at 255,000 miles with 32,000 miles on the points and rotor, and 224,000 miles on the cap. Took it for a good long run, and it runs well. Apparently tweaking the points did some good.
Then Jay's MGB needs a little more attention, primarily a leaky exhaust system. We know the header pipes are okay, just had those in hand the other day. Jack it up and start it up, but no go. Got kick back while cranking, so too much spark advance. Loosen base clamp to turn distributor to retard timing a bit, and it fires right up.
Lots of burbling underneath, turned out to be a substantial exhaust leak at inlet to the 2-to-1 transition pipe. Apparently not enough overlap for one of the tubing lap joints, soon covered and sealed with a padded band clamp. But the 2-to-1 pipe has some more minor cracks an needs to be replaced (for another day). Meanwhile, set ignition timing and fuel mixture and idle speed, so it also runs well. And it was a delightful test run indeed. But while we had it jacked up we found a very wobbly LF wheel. This turned out to be deteriorated rubber bushings in the top trunnion, so order up some parts, and something more for another day.
Monday, January 12, 2015:
Short side trip today, several miles west to Hudson, FL. Meet Carol Whitney, proud owner of a 1964/65 pull handle MGB and a recent acquisition MGTD. The TD is "BAD GRANNY" on the side, with license plate "PUDLJUMP" and a smaller logo below "Mouse Power". It's cute, but not why I'm here. The MGB is a different character. Fox tail on the roll bar, BIG bore exhaust, and an engine that goes like scat. It recently got a new clutch master cylinder, and now needs a clutch slave cylinder and hose. Sounds easy enough. Ah, yes, negative ground, alternator conversion, new wiring harness, a large bank of fuses, and a bunch of LED lights under the bonnet. That stuff apparently works, but not the clutch.
The clutch slave cylinder and hose installation went pretty much as planned, aside from having to pull a copper sealing washer out of my trailer because the old set didn't have it. Then lots of grief trying to bleed the clutch hydraulic circuit. Lots of fluid going in the top, lots of air coming out the bottom, and no pushrod motion at all. That fluid had to be going somewhere. Investigation up top reveals the banjo fitting on the clutch master cylinder had the copper washers installed wrong, so fluid was pouring down onto the floor mat and carpet. Bummer. I pulled a couple more copper washers from the magic trailer, and after a bit more struggle the banjo was sealed. Yeah, but still not enough clutch slave travel, obviously still some air trapped in there somewhere.
Three pipes, brakes, clutch and fuel line, were all improperly routed, having large upward bow above the back end of the engine. A little effort re-routed the clutch pipe lower and much more horizontal. Then jacked up the left side of the car to encourage air bubbles to work their way back up to the master cylinder, and as magic prevailed we had good clutch function. Wanting to test the clutch, but the battery was dead flat, so we attached the charger. Find one missing bolt at bottom of the clutch master cylinder, two missing bolts at bottom of the bellhousing, two more mismatched bolts in the bellhousing, leading to a trip to the local auto parts store to re-stock our inventories of fasteners. By the time we had all the proper bolts installed, the battery was charged up enough to start the engine.
Before a test drive we had to close the bonnet, which refused to latch. Lengthening the striker pin a couple of turns got it to latch, after which it refused to unlatch. The striker pin was then too far forward and binding on release. So the latch striker assembly was moved forward a quarter inch, and the bonnet latch works well again. It was raining, so the test drive was short, but the final result is on the face of the driver. We win. Just keep repeating, "Failure is not an option". The two hour clutch slave job turned into eight hours, but all is well that ends well.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015:
For a week or two now I have been asking navigator what are the odds of gasoline falling below $2/gallon, and he always said, "No way". Lowest we had seen so far was $2.08.9/gal. Well, today would be the day. First on US-41 near Lutz, FL, we spot a new low price of $2.03.9/gal at a Marathon station. Then a few miles farther south on US-301 we found a Wawa station with fuel at $1.86.9/gal. Not only a new low, but more than $0.20 lower than we had seen the day before, and I don't recall seeing gas below $2 in the past ten years or so. And it wasn't just one place, as we found several more stations with price below $1.90/gal over several miles span.
After 3-1/2 hours driving (mostly south) we stopped in Fort Myers (again) to attend the monthly membership meeting of British Car Club of Southwest Florida. There were more than 60 people crammed into the largest dining room at Famous Dave's BBQ. Table service was good, and we all got our dinner. Club meeting discussion ran from the newly elected officers to new members and visitors (including us), treasury report, past events, future events, and a touch on current state of the club web site. Quite by luck, yours truly won the 50/50 raffle (first time in many years), and netted enough to pay for dinner and a few tanks of fuel (at the current reduced prices). Post meeting chat with several of the club members, some of whom are getting to know us personally by now. Also note that we are regularly meeting many "snow birds" from the north, some from the Chicago area who may be current or past members of Chicagoland MG Club and/or Vintage MG Car Club of Chicago.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015:
No appointments, so spent the day "parked" in Fort Myers waiting to see if anyone's hand might pop up. Meanwhile catching up with email, tech questions bbs, and a few web page updates. Also gathered together a 17 year history of annual awards records for CMGC gleaned from historical newsletters.
Thursday, January 15, 2015:
More catch up with web work. Also took advantage of the lull to visit RadioShack to pick up a compact DVM to replace one the was broken about a year ago. I had purchased an analog meter several months ago, but it doesn't do well trying to measure 14 volts on a 50 volt scale. The DVM does much better measuring 14.52 volts on the 19.99 volt scale. I also picked up a piezo buzzer to rig a lights-on alarm for the MGA, so maybe navigator won't have to push again. Headed east late in the day, brief visit to Belle Glade, and stop in Port Saint Lucie for the night.