The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (January 16, 2015 - January 31, 2015)
Friday, January 16, 2015:
More web work today, email, BBS, posting up a couple of new tech pages. Late night moving a bit farther north to be closer to met appointment in the morning. Being hassled a bit by vicious traffic moving toward the expressway, forgot we needed a fuel stop. Oops. On the expressway before we realized it. Five miles up, next exit has no gas station, fuel gauge reading dead empty, so go back five miles with fingers crossed. Got lucky and made it, then put 12.8 gallons of fuel in the 12 gallon tank. No way. I think the gas pump was rigged to record more gallons than actually pumped. Killed half an hour, but back on the road again without being stranded. We finally landed just off the expressway in Palm Bay, Florida, by late night.
Saturday, January 17, 2015:
Had the wake-up alarm set today (an increasingly rare action). Fairly early breakfast, check email, get rolling, and arrived at Starbucks in Indialantic on the ocean at 10-am. Here we met MG Car Club of Florida for a nice tour drive down the coast road A1A. Someone was thinking small as there was not enough space to park eight LBC's in the small lot. We parked our trailer rig across the street, and a couple of cars were double parked (on the sidewalk I think). In the end we all got off in the same direction, generally southbound.
About 20 miles on we turn into "Jungle Trail", a damp well packed sand road lined by and often covered with trees. It was a nice cruise for a few miles before we seem to have missed a stop to view the pelicans, but then a few more miles of the nice sand road.
We ultimately emerge from the jungle to turn back north on US-1, making a long stop to visit the Fisher Treasure Museum. From there on to Squid Lips for lunch. We were joined along the way by a couple more MGs, including the MGA Coupe with a 2.0L Ford engine.
After the treasure museum we ambled up the road to Sebastian for lunch at Squid Lips. Did I mention this was an absolutely beautiful warm day for tops down cruising? Also rather nice to park the cars in the shade.
Then we continued cruising north up the coast on US-1 as the pack gradually dropped out. Last car remaining (besides us) was the '74 MGB of Doug Rothmell from Orange City, Florida. When we made a fuel stop the B was running poorly so Doug didn't want to shut it off for fear it may not restart. We were heading in the right direction, so we followed them home just for assurance, no other problem encountered.
By day's end we were nesting in Ocala, 230 miles for the day, and a good start on our way toward next appointment (still a good distance away).
MG Car Club of Florida has posted more photos of the day's tour. For as long as the link might last, see
Sunday, January 18, 2015:
Travel day, ending up in Panama City for the night (and WiFi work of course).
Monday, January 19, 2015:
Evening meeting with Panhandle British Car Association at Sonny's Bar-B-Que in Pensacola, FL. About 40 people in attendance, and someone thought it would be a good idea to make us the main attraction for the night (after the business meeting). I like to put on the pony show, so all is well with the world, and we have a bunch more new friends. And I think we have a couple more appointments for tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015:
An afternoon visit with Tim Maynard in Milton, Florida. Mike has a nicely restored MGA 1600-MK-II with a few interesting special features. First I was curious about the small fog lamps. Cute, small, and unobtrusive, but being mostly plastic they look a bit out of place. I am assured they work quite well. The net point was a slight modification to allow use of the early MGB lift-off "erectable" convertible top. That frees up space behind the seats. Apparently this is intended to be a fair weather car, as the top is not stowed in the boot.
We also had an evening visit with see Mike Japp in Pensacola. The initial purpose for being here was actually for a mail pickup. It is not often that we know where we will be a few days in advance, but this time we did, so we took advantage of the situation to have my daughter forward a couple of things to Florida.
First item was the new license sticker
for my MGA, now properly registered for another five years.
The other item (which has been months in transit) was a pair of stub stacks for the MGA carburetors. Been wanting to try these out for some time, finally have the parts, now just need the opportunity to install them. We got carried away with chit-chat and it turned close to midnight before we called it quits.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015:
As sometimes happens, I spent the whole day doing web work. Much of the time was spent doing a "minor" update to some Chicagoland MG Club web pages for library books and tapes. I was adding a menu bar and return link to the bottom of each page, 160 web pages. That action was triggered by finally having a bit of time available while I was adding one new book to the library list. Beyond that, just normal BBS and email and tech question stuff, and a few page updates on www.mgaguru.com.
Thursday, January 22, 2015:
A little more web work today, but mostly contacting car clubs in Alabama to see what's going on up there. We think we will be in Montgomery by Saturday morning for a tour, and back south to Daphne by Tuesday evening for a club meeting, and possibly a run up to Huntsville a week later (all subject to change without notice). Tonight we decided to drive in the rain, heading north, crossing into Alabama at midnight, landing in Greenville AL for the night. We have spent six weeks in Florida, a new record for one state (after four weeks in Pennsylvania).
Friday, January 23, 2015:
More rain. Some things got a little wet, so we found a laundromat to use the dryer. Crummy weather, didn't feel like tinkering with the car. So we took an evening drive through the mist another hour north, now sitting on the edge of Montgomery just a stone's throw from our morning appointment. Price of fuel still dropping, just tanked up in Montgomery for $1.78.9/gallon.
Saturday, January 24, 2015:
We hooked up with British Motoring Club in Montgomery, Alabama at 10-am. It was sunny and dry (for a change), but cool (40 something) and breezy, so a smaller than expected turn out, about 8 cars to start. It looked like a Jaguar convention at far end of the line. One Audi and a T'bird mixed in, and maybe a couple more cars before we hit the road.
This started as a lunch run to Auburn, AL, taking the lesser highways through the Martin Dam twisties in the mild mountains. We did Wetuempka Highway (US-231), Redland Road, Rifle Range Road, passing through Ware (like "whar are ya"?) and into Tallassee
where we made a brief stop to pick up a few more cars for the convoy. Then continued east on Notasugla (Not-as-ugly) Road, turning into Tallapoosa Street (maybe helps to be an Indian), then Auburn Road becoming Stage Road becoming M.L.King Drive, finally arriving in Auburn for BBQ lunch, where we added a few more cars and several more people to the group. Southern BBQ was good, as usual. Time for some chat and making more new friends.
Then some tire kicking tech in the car park. Star of the day here was the Sunbeam Alpine with top down in cool weather (actually no top at all). How many carb's do you need for four cylinders?
Then off and running again with at least 10 cars, heading a bit north and mostly west, following Farmville Road (I think, but just following the leader at the time). We were going to visit Adams Hudsonís car collection (somewhere between Red Hill and Jordan, I think).
Now lets see if I get this right for six cars. Ferrari 328 GTS, Porsche 911 Carrera, DeTomaso Pantera, Audi R8 6-speed, Corvette LT1, and Jaguar E-Type (not here yet). There are interesting stories behind all of these cars, good entertainment for sure, and he likes to drive them all.
By late afternoon we were heading back west toward Montgomery, but didn't quite get there, because we found a WiFi hot spot first, landing temporarily in Wetumpka, AL. Just as well, because as it turns out we are heading east next. Say what? More photos and notes at
Sunday, January 25, 2015:
Why east? Well, since we were east of Montgomery, and had nothing scheduled for a couple of days, my favorite back yard gang in Columbus, Georgia, was just a stone's throw away. So we toddled over there for another visit with the "southern contingent" of Peachtree MG Registry Ltd from Atlanta. I just wanted to see how all those MGs were doing, several weeks on. Do these cars look familiar?
The red MGB has the new con-rod bearings, and tune up (Jim Walton). The white one is the newly finished "grandfather's restoration" (Keith Farley). The blue one is a proud new return to the road (Phillip Clark). These cars are all on the road now as daily drivers, just some niggly little things to attend to. They have collected at east eight guys around Columbus with MGs needing some fellowship, so it may be time to reincarnate the old Columbus Area MG Owners Association.
By evening we have repaired a fuel leak at the filler neck of the new fuel tank, fixed a grounding problem on the tachometer, fixed a bad connection in a back up lamp, and figured out or to reconnect wiring for the back up lights.
Monday, January 26, 2015:
We are back on the road heading southwest today. Destination is a club meeting in Daphne AL tomorrow night, but we have another appointment in Mobile for either before or after the meeting.
Meanwhile, with another day to kill we are dot-hopping on the side roads again today. After six weeks in flat Florida it is good to be cruising hills in Alabama. Landed tonight in Bay Minette, AL, 10 minutes from tomorrow's club meeting.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015:
Club meeting tonight with South Alabama British Car Club in Daphne, Alabama (east across the bay from Mobile). Say what you like about Pizza Hut but it's hard to beat the $5 buffet with the soda included, choice of pizza, pasta, and sweet cinnamon bread. A few minutes after the center photo was taken, the room was crammed with 40 attendees. Lots of club business to attend to, and lots of new friends.
After the meeting we followed Robb Ogletree home to Grand Bay, AL, across the bay 30 miles to the west. Time for a brief hello to his MGA 1600-MK-II, followed by late night chat.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015:
A bit of give and take today. Time enough for the semi-annual hydraulics bleeding on my MGA. Also checked the tire pressures again, not having added any air since installation of car (3 mos) and trailer tires (3-1/2 mos), so apparently none of the tire loose any appreciable amount of air (very good news). I also jacked up the trailer to give the wheels a jiggle and a gentle spin. The bearings are still snug and spin freely (17 yrs 59K miles since installing the bearing buddies). That comes out to about 74 million rev's.
Then the MK-II gets a bit of personal attention with adjustment of the control box (to make the ignition light go out), a valve lash adjustment, carburetor tuning, and some time trying to diagnose a minor rattling noise. The odd noise subsided considerably after valve adjustment, so we think it is nothing to worry about. We were too busy to take pictures. Then an evening run to town for dinner, followed by more late night chat, followed by catching up with email and BBS and a new web page on luggage carriers.
Thursday, January 29, 2015:
After catching up normal web work, I spent much of the day reviewing the MGB BBS (which could be a never ending process). About mid day we got bored and moved west a few miles to Pascagoula, Mississippi. No particular reason, other than to say we were visiting another state today. Also got word that the February issue of Driveline (the CMGC newsletter) is about to arrive in Publisher format, which will be my big monthly chore to convert it to HTML code for web pages. This may be a long night.
Friday, January 30, 2015:
Most of the day on email organizing upcoming appointments, and boy are we going to be traveling in the next week. Killed the rest of the day working on the CMGC newsletter upload. Time for another state, so late night we moved over to Mandeville, Louisiana, in preparation for tomorrow's appointments. Along US-90 we saw fuel priced at $1.75.9/gallon another new low I think.
Saturday, January 31, 2015:
Good morning world. Up early for a "Cars & Coffee" breakfast meeting with the northern contingent of British Motoring Cars New Orleans at LaMadelien restaurant in Mandeville, LA. I was a bit late taking the pic in the dining room, as half the people had already left. When I stepped outside I discovered where they went. Apparently the MGA with an attitude is also a celebrity.
Then on the other side of the building, we find where the rest of the real cars had parked.
And now for my favorite "featured car of the day", the Vanden Plas Princess. This is the luxury version of the Austin America that I bought new in 1969, 1275cc engine, 4-speed automatic transmission optional, front wheel drive, hydro-elastic suspension, front disc brakes, rack and pinion steering. This was mostly new and novel stuff for the late 60's in America. The Austin America was my "upgrade" car to replace the MGA when I got married.
Meanwhile we picked up a couple more appointments for today. First is Cliff Hughes, just a friendly visit to see his nice MG ZB Magnette with 1800 engine and overdrive gearbox, and some serious chat time. Then we followed Cliff's daily driver MGA for a lunch run where we met with Dean DuPlantier.
After lunch we follow Dean home to visit and play with some of his toys for a while. In the play pen we find a single post drive-on lift doing double duty as a double stacker, holding a nice MGA 1500 above a Bugeye Sprite. In the next bay is a Jaguar E-type well along in restoration. On the ceiling hangs a neat racing pedal car, apparently in Jaguar Red paint.
Next is what may be the world's most sophisticated body rotisserie, designed and built by Dean for his own use. Also painted Jaguar red, primarily used in the restoration of the E-type (so far). Sitting next to that is the Dillon Oven, built by a local fellow named Dillon of course, intended to be used for baking powder coat painted car parts. The side box with automatic controls is included. The internal top tracks and trolleys for hanging the parts were Dean's additions allowing loading and unloading without getting seriously burned.
Then we rolled out the Sprite for some personal attention. Too much choke and running rich, it got a minor carburetor tune up. Then there was a problem with a leaky master cylinder with on odd half-stroke mechanical limit that would not go away with normal adjustments. We needed to install a new master cylinder, but the mounting is a "Chinese puzzle". The rear mounting bolt can only be removed by dismounting the support bracket (10 screws) to get to the big bolt residing underneath. After a couple hours struggle we did manage the transplant with the new unit installed.
That turned out to be child's play compared to the attempt to bleed the clutch slave cylinder. Apparently you need to be a midget contortionist to crawl into the narrow right side foot well for access through the tunnel wall in a location then cannot be seen while using a special wrench that we did not have. Naturally that was a failure (accompanied by a certain amount of spirited swearing and vows to kill the designer). Dean eventually crawled underneath to gain access with a standard wrench with more contortionist maneuvers, so eventually the bleeding process was complete (both brake fluid and human blood). Now a bit after dark the clutch hydraulics seem to work, but again having only half stroke of the pedal before hitting some mysterious mechanical stop. I was thinking the slave cylinder pushrod may be too short, so the slave piston may run out of travel. The hard mechanical stop would require a snap ring in the slave cylinder to prevent the piston from popping out of the bore. This theory is supported by the fact that the slave piston can be pushed back into the cylinder another full inch after it is in the rest position. Will have to investigate that later. Brakes will also need to be bled, but that's a straight forward job left for another day.
Then there was a brief encounter with the Triumph TR3 engine that is to be used in a TR3 based Devin bodied race car. The most notable feature here, after the head was removed, was an inordinate amount of rust accumulated in the water jacket around the wet liners.
Last but not least was a closer inspection of the MGA 1500 from underneath, which revealed a number of mismatched parts. The car is supposed to be a 1958 model, but it has the front tunnel with the bump out to accommodate the high position starter motor. Well, maybe someone had installed the later model tunnel as a replacement part, or perhaps it is really an early 1959 1500 model (have to check the chassis number later). Then there was a custom made starter drive cover, which is not bad, except that it was hitting the tunnel. This piece might as well be relegated to the dust bin, as it is not actually required on the MGA (later production cars didn't have it).
Then we found an early production gearbox used prior to September 1956 with low starter and external rear seal, and 1-inch 10-spline output shaft. This was followed by a mid production propshaft with bell shape stamped steel dust cup, 1-1/16-inch 10-spine input coupling. Duh? Mismatched splines and incorrect length for the propshaft, insufficient engagement length on the splines. Enough for one day, any more of this would give headaches so time to knock off for the night. Or was it? We got to toddle on up the road to Gulfport MS to the next WiFi spot to catch up with some of the daily obligation of web work.