The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (July 1, 2015 - July 15, 2015)

Wednesday July 1, 2015:
Some days are very GOOD days, like this one We stopped to visit Paul Dierschow at Sports Car Craftsmen LLC in Arvada, Colorado. The whole place is a special treat, a bee hive of serious activity servicing and restoring vintage cars. Among other things, I was curious about the new home of a large number of MGA body fixtures and tools that used to reside at Eclectic Motorworks in Holland Michigan. This is a very good place for these tools, being used regularly to restore lots of MGA as a specialty of the shop.

But you will see it is not all MGA, as they restore and service all MG and many other British cars as well. There is a Sunbeam Alpine Tiger, and the sheet metal room where they can make any body part required. Here is an MGA Twin Cam in restoration, having many new body parts made in house.

There is a big Healey, another Tiger, another MGA and MGB, a TR6, and I was drooling over the MG PA with crank driven supercharger.

A short walk outside reveals more about this operation. The shipping containers are something like 56 feet long. Most of them contain 8 MGs, 4 long and 2 high. A few of them contain 12 MG Midget and Sprite, 4 long and 3 high. More than 90 MGs are inside the containers, and several more containers hold spare parts. The back lot must hold over 100 cars, and more up front. Think 250 cars on the property. Many are future project cars, while a fairly small minority can be parts cars. See a following page for many more photos and notes for this visit to Sports Car Craftsmen

I had to take this one last picture of the tachometer drive on the back end of the generator in a MG TF. In recent weeks I have seen several of these that were broken or loose or otherwise inoperative or problematic. So here is a nice one in good working order. Notice it is very close to the distributor, so you need to disconnect the speed reducer gearbox from the generator before trying to loosen the fan belt. I suppose many of these are broken due to such negligence.

In the evening we were off and running again on I-70 West. We ran two hours and stopped for the night at Eagle, Colorado, half way between Denver and Grand Junction. This was a delightful night run through some of the twistiest interstate highway in the nation, lots of 3rd gear up long hills. The beginning of the trip was 58 miles up hill, then after several miles down, more up, eventually climbing from 5000+ to over 11,000 feet for the mountain pass. Then a long coast down hill, so our stop at Eagle was back down to 8500 feet.

Thursday July 2, 2015:
This is what the Rocky Mountains look like in daylight, just a taste of the views we were missing last night. But I have been here before, so not really missed. After another two hours we stop momentarily in Grand Junction,CO.

Then we were off to visit LaVerne Downey in Fruita, CO. He has a nice MGB with a supercharger, which helps immensely in high altitude.

He also has a nice MG TF with (you guessed it) a supercharger (which helps immensely in high altitude). It also has neat rear wing protector covers (which were sourced from Australia).

In the evening we were off to dinner at a local rib shack, where we were joined by another friend with another MGA. All jolly good fun. The best part is, none of these cars need any fiddling. Ta-da! Jump in and drive.

Headed west out of Colorado on I-70, stopping about 50 miles into Utah on I-70.

Friday July 3, 2015:
A bit farther west on I-70, turned north on US-6 West. Lunch and service stop in Price UT. It may be high altitude, but it's still hot here. Hands numb from shaking steering wheel at expressway speed, so get tires balanced and rotation (front to back), Walmart free. Over 30,000 miles on the "new" tires since October. Note to self: "Need trailer tires again soon".

While waiting for tire service, I replaced another failed brake light switch. NAPA Echlin SL147 (Mexico) just bit the dirt at 4-weeks 5272 miles. The new replacement switch is Duralast RB401 (Spain) from Autozone. Not made in Mexico this time so will let you know how this one makes out.

We told Mapquest to plot the shortest route continuing due west out of Price UT. This is generally following US-6, but the shortcut though the mountains would knock off 20 miles (with a bit more travel time at slower speeds). The shortest route can lead to some interesting roads. Five miles north of Price we turned left (west) onto "Consumers Rd/UT-139", a decent blacktop for 12 miles.

Then we turned into Beaver Road, single lane, strictly gravel about 30-mph, not bad for a short cut. Until the road got narrower and the hills got steeper. We finally ran into a hill so step that the drive tires began to slip in the gravel about the same time as the engine ran out of torque at high altitude in 1st gear and the clutch was at its limits. This is the first time that Mapquest routed us onto a road that we couldn't negotiate in the MG. Jolly good fun, but we had to turn around and find an easier road.

The next prescribed shortcut ran us into another diminishing road that may have been passable but looked pretty bad, and darkness was all about us, so we decided to bail out of that one as well. Back on the pave roads, having lost about an hour to the aborted gravel roads, we made our way to Delta UT, just over 130 miles form Price. As we were parking for the night, the MG gearbox decided to lock us out of 3rd and 4th gears, leaving us with 1-2 and reverse working okay. I suspect a loose bolt that holds the shift fork on the shift rod, so the shift rod is out of position with an upset detent, and the shift gate is misaligned. We will think on this one over night.

Saturday July 4, 2015
Sitting on WiFi, watching the Independence Day parade in the street, it seemed like a nice time to take day off (sort of) while contemplating our mechanical problem. Not having any ready options for a workshop on the holiday weekend, by late afternoon we decided to drive on using 2nd gear as top gear, which is generally slow but can get along okay to get somewhere else. Run it up to 42 mph (5000 rpm), coast down to 30-mph, repeat every half minute (on level ground). Up hills it's 30-mph at 4000 rpm. Down hills is better, sometimes fast coasting down steep hills. We average 35-40 mph, and we get there (after a while). We did Delta to Ely, 150 miles in 4 hours, no problem. We do have a planned destination, will see how it goes tomorrow.

Sunday July 5, 2015
A lot can change in 24 hours. In fact, a lot can change in a matter of minutes. Up early today intending to get an early start at making some slow miles west using 2nd gear again. After breakfast and WiFi, and a couple of very short jaunts around town in 2nd gear, I stopped on a bit of level ground to check oil level and add a quart. On resumption of travel, 3rd and 4th gear were magically working again. I guess with enough driving and bouncing around the gearbox internal parts jiggled themselves back into the proper rest position, and all is well with the world.

Yee-haa! 70-mph is much better than 35, so we were off and running in style again. Shorty west of Ely we spotted a steam tour train, so we stopped just long enough to snatch a few pictures as it was passing.

260 rather hot miles from Ely to Fallon, NV in 4 hours including a fuel stop. A couple hours in Fallon to cool down the driver and navigator and check email, a stop at Walmart for oil, a stop at NAPA (closed at 4 Sunday), a stop at O'Reilly Auto Parts to pick up an oil filter and some J-B Weld, and another fuel stop.

Then a 165 mile run to Murphys, California. The last 64 miles running on CA-4 through the higher elevations of the mountains was most delightful, a huge change from hot desert earlier in the day. We were up and down like a yo-yo, over 8600 feet once, sometimes changing 1500 feet up or down in 5 minutes. A lot of 2nd gear up hill, a few 1st gear switchbacks, lots of 3rd gear down hill (sometimes 2nd) to avoid cooking the brakes. We missed many good pictures when navigator was busy squeezing the grab handle rather than the shutter button. I love CA-4. Note to self: Bring friends with more MGs next time. Arrived at Brice Winery north of Murphys CA just after dark.

425 miles in one day is not bad for starting the day with a damaged gearbox. Oh yeah, chalk up 8000 miles in the past 5-1/2 weeks since leaving Murphys, CA, and now we are back to take up where we left off.

Monday July 6, 2015
Maintenance day, oil and filter changed, lube job, JB Weld to fix three sightly loose wheel studs in RR hub, and attempt to adjust rear brakes so hand brake might work again. Rear brake linings are a bit more than half worn but the adjusters are at their limit giving long pedal stroke and ineffective parking brake. I must have gotten one additional click from one adjuster, as the LR wheel will now skid in grave with the hand brake (just good enough for parking). Having recently replaced front brake shoes I noticed the adjusters went to half travel with new shoes on standard bore drums (never turned), so I suppose the new shoes are somehow undersize. I have reported this problem to Moss Motors, but I have no idea if they might do anything about it. Note to self: Buy new rear brake shoes soon. Installed new screen washer pump. I forgot what color are my wheels?

Did some work on the MG TF today (photo at right from May 29). Replaced seals on leaking front float chamber. Tightened loose clamps on throttle shaft. Straightened tab on rear carb return spring anchor to restore return spring action. Adjust carbs. Replace leaky copper seal washes on banjo fitting for cylinder head oil supply. Yes you can (maybe) reach the float chamber bolt and fuel mixture nuts (if you're a contortionist).

Took three MGs for a test run, good fun. The TF had a nasty torque steer problem. Jacked up and tightened the U-bolts on the rear axle and leaf springs. Another test run, wonderful improvement, no more torque steer. The TF goes home to its owner tomorrow. My MGA and the trailer got washed (really?). Oh yeah, the wheels are silver and gold. Had a pizza party in the yard with the cast of future performance of Shakespeare. (We can enjoy a bit of culture occasionally).

Tuesday July 7, 2015
Goodby to Brice Station Vinards (again). Roll it down the hill four miles on CA-4 and 6 miles on Murphys Grade Road to Angels Camp. Then due south though the mountains for nearly 90 miles, and 20 miles west to Los Banos, CA. The roads are nice, destination is a bit of a mystery. Lots of time on WiFi with emails and planning the next couple of weeks. Late night we rolled it farther west to Watsonville, CA, near the west coast.

Wednesday July 8, 2015
We missed an appointment last night, as the person we would have seen was not available. That's okay, because we knew about it before we drove the distance. The ultimate reason for being in Watsonville was because we wanted to run another stretch of US-1 up the west coast. Some of the coastal scenery was breath taking. Some of the traffic was a bit of a pain. Road not along the coast and passing through towns was more of a pain. All in all, a nice experience, as we sometimes turn into tourists when we have spare time.

We finally found our way into San Francisco, "city by the bay", and also lots of hills (steep hills). The ups and downs were interesting. Finding a place to park was a challenge, and parking on the hill plenty of fun, along with parallel parking the trailer. We were here to visit Mike Jacobsen. How do you get six cars in a garage below a small 4-unit condo? Well, they are not all Mike's cars. He has an MGB freshly painted and being reassembled, and a Jaguar XK140 that has been on stands for decades, progressing very slowly when funds may be available for very expensive parts. His modern daily driver sleeps outside. He also has an MGA in a different location undergoing repairs and restoration. I don't know if I could do this in small city garage spaces.

After dinner and some late night chat we bade farewell and turned the rig south down US-101 along the west side of the bay (San Fransisco Bay). Forty miles later we stopped for the night in Sunnyvale, CA, on the south end of the bay near San Jose, and spitting distance from tomorrows first appointment.

Thursday July 9, 2015
Sitting on WiFi this morning in Sunnyvale, CA, we had a chat with a (almost) local fellow Juan Salizar. He has an MGA 1500 in nice condition, so we took a 10 mile run down to San Jose to check it out. He also has a couple of Willys and multiple Dune Buggys tucked away in his back yard. He has owned the MGA for a long time, doesn't drive it much, but fires it up at least once a month to keep it in good running condition.

Then back north a bit for lunch with Simon Matthews in Santa Clara, CA. His MGA 1500 has a few interesting "tweaks", like the engine external oil pipe being re-formed to fit an oil filter spin-on adapter that was originally a mid-production MGB part. Pancake air filters are somewhat restrictive and really should be changed.

On left side only, the front inner fender has been bent back a bit to allow R&R of the shock absorber without removing the mounting studs. There may have been a good reason for that, as this shock is spongy, needing oil, and possibly in need of a rebuild. The rear number plate bracket is adapted to mount on the back of the rear bumper rather than above it, perhaps cleaner air flow than original, but certainly a matter of personal preference.

Then we were off through the hassle of slow going evening rush hour traffic on I-880 North (Nimitz Freeway) and I-580 West to Oakland. We were here for a visit with Charles Nash who has a nice 1959 MGA 1500. A few tweaks here as well. Notice the colored front turn lights, MK-II style recessed grille, MGB steering wheel, vinyl covered dash with bright trim, accessory scuff plates on the doors, and the absence of side curtain securing brackets (hey, it's western California). We have a nice dinner here before we disappear into the night.

We have more appointments tomorrow to the northeast, but there are toll bridges all around San Francisco Bay, and there are killer tolls with the trailer. So rather than taking a direct route north (45 miles) we opt for a large loop (118 miles) to the east (hey, it's a nice drive at night). By late night we end up at I-5 and CA-12 near Lodi (2/3 of the way around the loop) to catch some sleep.

Friday July 10, 2015
Priority email check on morning WiFi, then heading west 38 miles on CA-12 to Fairview, CA. Here we meet Randall 'Randy' Carlson with his 1971 MGB roadster "B Minus", and another friend Mac Townsend with another MGB. Mac has a long relationship with MGs and much to offer from his experience. To beat the restaurant rush we do lunch a little early, then back to Randy's place for MG chat.

After a while Mac departed, and we got to do a bit of diagnostic work on Randy's MGB. It has a mysterious "clink" occasionally from the back end while driving. Here we discover substantial backlash at the differential input shaft, indicating wear on the fiber thrust washers in the differential. It will "clunk" slightly taking up the backlash when getting on or off throttle. For one direction in particular, this "clunk" sounds like a "clink". This we attribute to the propshaft tube ringing like a high pitch bell, which can also be produced by tapping on the propshaft tube. Turning the propshaft back and forth makes an interesting clunk, clink, clunk, clink. Solution to this will be installing new thrust washers in the differential, about a 90 minute job including the oil change.

Then we get a peak at "Pimrose", the pale yellow E-type Coupe (XKE?). This car has factory rally wheels that MGA Twin Cam enthusiasts can only drool over. The Dunlop pin drive knock-off steel wheels have five pins so they will not fit on the Twin Cam, but some of the brake parts may be interchangeable. We then had a couple more libations and more MG chat to kill some time to avoid some rush hour traffic.

Early evening we were off an running east on I-80, 75 miles through Sacramento, heading for Shingle Springs, CA. Here we met Tom Pope (left with another friend, right) who has an MGA with a brake problem. More about that tomorrow. Tonight we were just out for dinner and chat, followed by late night WiFi session before I can rest.

Saturday July 11, 2015
No rest for the weary, but I had to get some sleep. Up early to get caught up with the photos and trip notes. Today we get to play with cars. First is the two-car garage (storage space) with four cars, 1931 MG M-type, MG TC, MGA, and Jaguar E-type. The MGA was moved to the other two-car garage (work space) for service work. Today at floor level it received all new brake cylinders. Then onto the lift for brake bleeding. In the process we discovered gear lube in the rear brake drums. Bummer, no parts for this, so that task will have to wait for another day. But we had a nice test drive.

Into town for late evening dinner, followed by a couple hours on WiFi. After midnight a short run south coincidentally landed us back in Lodi where we were two nights earlier.

Sunday July 12, 2015
One appointment farther south fell through, so a chance to spend most of the day on WiFi. I was reviewing remaining car clubs and a few people we have not met yet in California, as well as updating a few web pages, and still looking for trailer tires (but the shops are closed on Sunday). Found a possible source for tires in stock 60 miles SW, but not sure. More likely to find tires in the larger city, so late night we ventured north to Sacramento.

Monday July 13, 2015
A bit of time on WiFi and a few phone calls will pay off. No small tires in Sacramento, but got a referral to a shop with tires in stock in Jackson. This was a nice 42 mile top-down cruise, mostly state highways, flat at first until we found some entertaining hills. Score at America's Tires in Jackson CA. Good price, good service in and out in a flash.

We just set a new record almost 33,000 miles on those small trailer tires vs. 22,000-26,000 on previous sets. So I was looking for new tires of the same brand and model, Carlisle Sport Trail, which I got. This time they are Load Range C vs. B for all prior tires (but the same $20 price per tire). That means capable of 760 pounds load per tire at 90-psi air pressure. That is gross overkill for a 500 pound trailer, and may or may not have anything to do with the wear life, but give us another 9 months and we will see. I have pressure set to 30-psi, same as always before. The dealer was shocked at the "low" pressure, until he looked at the old tires to see more wear in center of tread than at the edges.

Then we were out for a really nice cruise in the mountains to the east, an exercize in how to turn a 33 mile trip into 97 miles. This started off innocent enough, ten miles north on CA-49, then hang a right on Fiddletown Road for 16 miles, beginning a climb to higher altitude. A covered bridge and a brood of wild turkeys caught out attention for a bit (nearly rear ended by a pick-up truck when we stopped to get that picture).

Then we turned left onto Shake Ridge Road for six miles, and things got very busy (more than 60 curves). This is between "B" and "C" on the map. By coincidence, this is where we decided to try video with our cheap hand held digital camera, and it was a good show to boot. Navigator was holding the camera at arms length as we hustled along the wavy twisty road at 45-mph average. Amazingly, out stretched arms make a fairly good stabilization mount for a camera in a rock and roll environment. This is a 640-MB 9-minute video, for those who might have the band width and time to view it.
Then we turned east on CA-88 for 20 miles, a little quicker pace climbing steadily higher. Nice exercise holding the loud pedal to the floor in 3rd gear for several minutes at a stretch as we climbed through 5000 feet, 6000, 7000, 8000 feet and a bit higher. We were chasing a fire truck for a while, and he was hauling ass at least 55-mph (a bit quicker on down grades) until he turned left on Omo Ranch Road and left us in a cloud of dust.

Then we turned left again onto Mormon Emigrant Trail heading generally west for 25 miles. This was mostly down hill, some of it nearly straight at up to 70-mph before it got twistier at lower altitude. Then left onto Sly Park Road, then Pleasant Valley Road and Cedar Ravine Road, leading into Placerville, CA, back on US-50 east of Sacramento. Good timing as we ran out of daylight and looked for WiFi again.

Tuesday July 14, 2015
Not too much notable today. We got tired of bumping into WiFi spots with no electrical outlets. We can charge the computer batteries when driving, but we have a high ratio of computer time to driving time, so need to be plugged in sometimes. We may start a web page listing establishments with electrical outlets available (or not) for customers as well as free WiFi. For today we just ran south from Cameron Park to Lodi, a 58 mile short cut through the mountain roads for fun. It was only a bit more than an hour, and we knew where to find an electrical outlet along with WiFi there (BTDT). Sitting there allowed lots of time to catch up with photo and notes, and to upload the large video file from the day before. We also made a last ditch effort at contacting some car clubs that didn't respond in the past.

Wednesday July 15, 2015
Spent some time looking at web sites for MG and Brit car clubs in Oregon, preparing for more northerly travels. Spent quite a lot of time posting some vintage advertising on the web site. After hanging around the area for a few days we had an appointment for Natter "n" Noggin with Sacramento Valley MG Car Club. Having found the location and time on the club web site, and having called to verify location and time a few days earlier, we showed up at Los Pinos in Cameron Park, CA at the appointed time, and no one was there. Huh? In retrospect,it seems they changed the meeting place on short notice and we didn't hear about it. In any case, we missed meeting a fair number of MG enthusiasts, and we can't wait around another month for them to do it again. Late evening we ran back south to Galt for some unfinished business (left a bag in a restaurant there).

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