The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (December 16, 2015 - December 31, 2015)

Wednesday December 16, 2015
Sitting just north of San Antonio, Texas, still contemplating a trip south to Corpus Christi for a meeting with Corpus Christi MG Car Club, but having no available contact with the club. We finally called the restaurant to ask if the club had a reservation and what time? After several minutes grovelling about,the manager finally said the club had not been meeting there for a long time. So, scratch the trip south and save a couple hundred miles.

But we do have another appointment just 20 minutes away. Meet Rory Hinnen in New Braunfels, Texas. He has a nice MGB and a very nice MGA 1500 Coupe (fitted with 1600 type tail lights). He insists that I restored his MGA (meaning it would never have been completed or maybe not even started without my web site).

I was particularly interested in the twin 8-inch electric fans and lack of engine driven fan. I really like the idea of deleting the engine fan, but it depends on having an electric fan (or fans) that actually work well (with a good radiator). I recon the chat ran a bit longer than anticipated, and we kept him awake all day, and he had to go to work at night. Oops. So we were off to find another WiFi spot and future planning.

Thursday December 17, 2015
Sitting in New Braunsfels, TX with an urge to travel, we headed southeast down TX-46, enjoying full sun and warmer weather. No rush, so we were sight-seeing. There was a sign noting "Historical Marker 1-mile". Measuring exactly one mile, we saw the next sign noting "Historical Marker" with a pointing hand. Very cute, but we searched for five minutes and couldn't find it. If it was inside a building, then the whole thing may have been a tourist trap for an old restaurant.
A couple more miles along we found another historical marker. After the picture and time to read the thing, it turned out to be for an extict town, and I have no idea why anyone bothered to erect the marker.

Then we headed east on I-10 to Katy, TX, where we confirmed that one of my predictions (or wish items) has come true, gas for $1.69. Not only that, but even lower at $1.59.9. We didn't actually need gas here, but stopped to fill up and take the picture for record.

Friday December 18, 2015
Bit of a tech day, lots of email. Posted a new web page on choke cable, and another page on steering wheel. Sitting in Katy, west side of Houston, looking at the Gulf coast and plotting a route, but no fixed appointments in Louisiana yet. So late evening we point it north and haul. One stop in Waco for fuel and dinner, and late night finds us nesting in the Ft Worth area with a target for tomorrow.

Saturday December 19, 2015
Start the day at breakfast with the Terrant County Breakfast Club which is a western division of Texas MG Register. Group a dozen people at Rise and Shine Restaurant in Arlington, and have a good time for all.
This was followed by a new appointment with Bill Stewart in Benbrook, TX. He has a very nice 1958 MGA Coupe with 1800 engine, overdrive, alternator, air conditioning and a few more tricks up its sleeve.

There's another pair of 9-inch electric fans, this time pushing air through the A/C condenser, and no engine driven fan. I think the jury is still out on this one for being able to survive Texas heat in mid summer. There are halogen H4 head light bulbs, Sylvania 9003 "brighter and whiter", but the noted 148 hour life expectancy has me concerned (especially at $50 per pair). Zevo Super Bright LED bulbs are used for parking lights and turn signals (and brake lights). Hard to tell in daylight if these are bright enough, but they certainly seem to work.

The Lucas PL tripod headlamps are impressive (at least cute). These reportedly work well (although some replacement types do not). These seem to have water condensing inside, maybe asking for some attention. Next is the aluminum bottle used for coolant recovery (the gray one with the hose in it, not the pretty blue one). The screw cap incidentally makes a good cap for the MGA master cylinder.

Next up is the ammo box for storage space, sitting in the spare battery carrier (after one 12-volt battery installation). In is 6"W x 7-1/4"H x 11-1/4"L. Unfortunately it does not quite fit down through the battery cover opening when upright (a bit too long). But lying on its side it does fit (tight squeeze).
There is another smaller ammo box, 3-1/2"W and less length that would fit. In fact you could put two of these side by side in the battery carrier. A fuel pump may fit in the narrow box, probably not a water pump. Due to the latch arrangement you would have to lift these boxes out before opening.
For electrical bits there is a 4-fuse block from MGB, a horn relay, an electronic flasher unit (to accommodate LED turn signals), and headlamp relays. He is working on a boot light (and maybe a similar engine compartment light). The electrical diagram shows a drawing error for turn signal relay in the MG Series MGA workshop manual. Very few people notice this as is it was corrected with introduction of the 1600 model.

Finally we all wandered off to the Lone Star Grill for a late lunch, and killed another hour or more with some productive MG chat. After some more WiFi time we pointed it south and landed back in Katy before midnight.

Sunday December 20, 2015
Bunch of WiFi time today, but late night we headed east into Houston, and south out of Houston.

Spent most of an hour waiting for the ferry at Galveston, then floated a couple of miles to Port Bolivar, then followed the coast roads to land in Winnie, TX about 3-am.

Monday December 21, 2015
Slept late, then some WiFi and added a new web page on dash panel mounting.
Several emails, and then a phone call, and we headed east in the evening hustling along I-10 to New Iberia, LA. Say hello to Tim Markle who has a very nice MGA 1500 (among other things). Late night chat with a new friend.

Tuesday December 22, 2015
Slept in today, then some WiFi work. Mr and Mrs were off to work, and some issues came up at work, so forget about evening festivities. We did get a change to check out some more of Tim's toys before we left.

He has a project Triumph small mouth TR3 pending, and an MG YA/YB hybrid in process, an MGA Coupe and another MGA roadster with hardtop, and a bug-eye sprite coming along nicely. Seems like there is another MGA hiding somewhere, but I think it may be a parts car.

Late afternoon finds us toddling along a bit farther east, just wandering this time. We followed US-90 in the (typical winter) rain along the southern coast until we landed in Kenner, LA for a WiFi stop, intending to haunt the New Oreans area for a while (maybe). Didn't like the incessant rain, so we drove farther east late night to Slidell, LA, on the east end of Lake Ponchartrain (and it worked, less rain).

Wednesday December 23, 2015
No immediate appointments, but a full day of WiFi. Posted some new web pages on MGA Coupe rear parcel shelf, lots of pictures, but still needing some piece part drawings.

Beginning to look like appointments near here on the weekend.

Thursday December 24, 2015
Killing a couple more days. Spent a few hours on a monthly report for the Chicagoland MG Club newsletter, and sending pictures. Got an offer for use of a vacant condo for a while, so took the opportunity. Spent half the night off-line making drawings for the MGA 1500 Coupe rear parcel shelf frame.

Friday December 25, 2015
All quiet on the western front. Merry Christmas to all. Got lucky and found a WiFi spot open so I could send the parcel shelf drawings to the bloke who supplied the pictures.

Saturday December 26, 2015
8:00 am Cars and Coffee with British Motoring Club New Orleans at La Madeleine in Mandeville, LA. Count ten people and a jolly good time talking about everything but cars.

Afterward toddled over to Cliff Hughes (happy face on right above) home in Mandeville to do a bit of work on his MG ZB Magnette. Left side trafficator pops out but does not blink. We opened the arm to test the light bulb. The bulb as good but no power there, so need to chase a fault inside the body (later). Belt squeal so we tightened the alternator belt. Most of the bolts are in difficult positions but persistence pays. No luck though as there was one bolt missing. Installed a bolt and tightened the belt again. More belt squeal, as the air conditioning compressor belt was loose. More difficult bolts, be we finally managed to banish the squeal, and the A/C works, but doesn't idle well with AC on.

Traced that problem to a faulty fast idle solenoid with a very wek click. Need to remove the solenoid lead to removing air cleaners, and then the solenoid was out. This led to discovery that the throttle shafts were misaligned, the cause being a thin thermal spacer on the rear carb and none on the front carb. Also found leaking rubber grommets on the float chambers. so the carbs were coming off for "adjustments". Then dug up another thermal spacer but it was thicker, so no cure yet. Tried mounting carbs with no spacers but throttle linkage hit the heat shield so no joy. Finally found a matching pair of thicker spacers, but then the carb mounting studs were too short to accept the nuts. With hefty vice grips and double nutting and four hands, we managed to remove one of the studs for a sample, taken to a local parts store to buy longer studs.

Meanwhile I replaced the leaky grommets on the ZB float chamber mounts, did an oil and filter change on my MGA, pushed a seal back into place on the MGA RF shock absorber filled it with oil, and drilled a tiny vent hole in the fill plug to avoid pressure build-up.

Then more four-fisted fight to remove the other three carburetor mounting studs, after which it was pretty easy to install longer studs and reinstall the carbs. And the Magnette went to sleep happy, sans air cleaners, waiting to see if we can get a new A/C fast idle solenoid.

Sunday December 27, 2015
Today we had one small but significant job to do on Cliff's Magnette (how many people can you put in that boot)? We had to fix the left side traficator that pops out but does not light up or blink. The traficator is a very British option, never installed on Magnettes for the North American market. Cliff had procured a "home market" wiring diagram that would show the electrical circuit for this option. From the day before we knew the bulb is good, so the fault is internal and the mechanism has to come out of the car for investigation. By the time I arrived Cliff had already removed the interior trim panel (only two screws), then two more screws to extract the traficator assembly. There are two wires, one for the pop-out solenoid, and one to power the lamp, plus a body ground return connection. The test light, continuity tester and ohm meter were to be very helpful.

There is no moving flex wire here, but there is a set of wiping contact points that looked somewhat corroded, so we did the emery paper job there first (which did not help). A bit more testing revealed the power input was somehow shorted to ground when it was assembled. Removing one pinch screw allowed removal of the orange plastic arm, leaving the power feed wire connected to the contact rivet. Thinking the isolated pass through electrical contact rivet may be grounded to the moving arm, we used a soldering iron and pulled the wire out of the rivet to remove the rivet and isolator parts for inspection. The nylon step grommet and fiber washer looked okay. In the process we found the contact rivet was actually a split rivet rather than cross drilled for the wire, which made it easier to reassemble. Install nylon grommet and rivet, then the fiber washer, then insert the wire between legs of the split rivet, and pinch the legs together to secure the wire. We then soldered the wire to the rivet to assure it would have good electrical connection. In the process we replaced a somewhat frazzled 50 year old braided cloth insulation sleeve with a fresh piece of PVC insulation extracted from a new stranded wire. We then had known good power feed to the bulb, and when we jump wired the down stream end of the bulb to ground it would light up and flash as intended. Very enthused and full of hope we reinstalled the outer chrome cover that provides the ground return for the bulb, and then it didn't work again. Huh?

Having narrowed it down to an issue with the outer chrome cover, it didn't take much longer to resolve the problem. There is a turned back end on the tail of the cover that hooks onto the heel of the steel moving arm, while the cover contacts the end of the festoon bulb and is secured with a small screw in the outer end. The chrome cover then serves as the ground return for the bulb. Workshop manual instruction for changing the bulb calls for removing the screw, lifting the cover, and pushing it to un-hook the inboard end. As so happens if the cover is lifted too high on the outboard end it "un-bends" the inboard hooked end somewhat. Then when reassembled, the abnormally extended hooked end of the chrome cover can contact the power input wire shunting it to ground and shorting out the lamp. Bummer. Some of these problems can be very tricky to resolve, but once you get it figured out, it always turns out to be something very simple. We just pushed the hook end of the cover back down, and the short was banished, and the traficator works again. Score one for the good guys, and it only took THREE HOURS (doh).

Time for a lunch break, after which we spent some time inspecting and discussing a few different models of MGA (and Austin Healey) side curtains, and a very original tool kit for MGA, which happens to be in extraordinarily good original condition. We were also carousing through some vintage British car books, and some original sale documents for his Big Healey.

I was curious about how the hand crank (starting handle) could work on the Magnette where it has a vertical insert aperture on top of the front bumper. Open the bonnet first to uncover the hole on top of the bumper. The crank has a special fixture that looks like a large key. Insert the key into the vertical hole and rotate it 90 degrees to lock it into position. This provides the horizontal guide hole to hold the front end of the hand crank as it is inserted into the dog nut on the engine crankshaft. Unfortunately in this case the "key" hole in the top of the front bumper is too small so the crank support key cannot be inserted to be locked into place. This would require grinding the key hole larger which would remove the chrome plating, which apparently is not going to be done any time soon. So the hand crank cannot be used as is.

Okay, off to find the WiFi connection where I spent considerable time posting a new tech page with pictures of an original MGA armrest showing the inner foam cushion with construction similar to the bottom seat cushion, and the same brand name Dunlopillo on the foam part. Then time to post this page update, which ate up the rest of the day until past midnight (but nothing unusual with that).

Monday December 28, 2015
Had a little quality time with Cliff's MGA today. The prime objective was to get the left side door to close and latch (on the second catch) so it wouldn't pop open when driving. It has the correct weather seal, and the sheet metal is all original never molested, so the doors are (almost) properly aligned, and no interference with the rocker panels. This turned out to be a simple adjustment of the striker plate so all is well with the world.

Cliff has the original spare tire cover from is MGA. Spreading open a stiched joint revealed a very good representation of the original texture and "print" color. The more I see these original parts the more I think maybe they were not printed. Perhaps the material was made with different colored layers, so when it was stamped or rolled to produce the texture the color of the under layer would show through in the depressions. We also spent some time checking out original cell core radiators, (mostly not salvageable), then called it quits as Cliff had to go to work (say What?).

Tuesday December 29, 2015
Lots of email today, sending inquires, making appointments, as well as the normal "guru" activities. Plotting and planning tentative routing in general for the next week or two.

Wednesday December 30, 2015
I had long since made a links list for every known MG and all-British car club in North America (and rest of the world too for that matter). I've been spending plenty of time checking and updating it regularly for the past 20 months while traveling (and visiting every club on the list).

Now I have bit off another big chunk of a task to suck up a lot of "spare time" for another year or two. I just laid down a few new web pages for links to Mechanical Shops in all of North America, the places that do repairs and restoration and machine work for MGs and British cars. One of the most common questions I get is "Where can I find a shop to work on my LBC"? I did this for the Chicago area many years ago, but for the rest of the country my common answer was, "I dunno, not my neighborhood". But now that I'm traveling, the whole country is my neighborhood, and I am checking out such shops as I go. So I am now soliciting for contributions for this list. If you have a favorite shop that has done work on your MG or other British Car, or one that is recommended by someone else, please send it along so I can add it to the list. I need the business name, street address, phone number, email address and web site link (if available).

After 11-pm closing time we hit the road heading north, and by 2-am we landed just south of Jackson, Mississippi in preparation for next appointment.

Thursday December 31, 2015
Slept in 'till 11-ish, then some WiFi work. By 2-pm we were in the heart of Jackson, MS to visit Keith Turner who has a nice MGA 1600. This car had some electrical issues for some time, particularly blowing fuses on the green wire circuits (fused and hot with ignition switch on). We missed him on our prior pass last February, so took this opportunity to lay down the extra 225 miles for the side trip today. Check the pictures. This guy has two double stacker four-post lifts. Love the original bright cherry color leather seats, but the cockpit trim and tonneau cover are a bit too dark.

Brake lights and turn signals worked, but other green wires had been disconnected from the fuse, so fuel gauge, heater blower and wipers were not working. We found the heater switch had been bypassed (two wires spliced together), and the heater motor had intermittent internal short to ground. We disconnected the switched wire from the motor, reconnected the two wires to the switch, and reconnected the green wire to the fuse block, so the heater blower switch would work. That also got the fuel gauge working (since the blower takes power from the fuel gauge "B" terminal).

Then the knuckle busting grunt work to remove the blower motor and disassemble it for internal inspection. Hoping to find worn out brushes that might be repaired, instead we found badly burned up and shorted field coils, so the blower motor will have to be replaced. But at least we resolved the problem, and other things work. Then we ran out of time and had to split. In retrospect, I guess we forgot the wipers were still not working, so there may be a return visit later if we can't work that out via email.

Then we pointed it south, and 2-1/2 hours later we were in Saucier, MS (Gulf coast area again). Well, there was a little 10-minute delay for the cop to cite us for doing 80 in the 65 zone. We were following a couple other cars just after dark (6-pm), but you have to understand about our odd vehicle being an attractive nusiance. We were in Saucier (pronunced like "Sosor") to visit Gene Gillam who has a MG TC (for lots of years past). He restored this car (with supercharger) some years ago, then got a few years use out of it before it was totaled out in an accident in 2006 (or 2008 maybe). He has since been restoring it again, very slow going, but it's getting there.

We had just enough time to take a few pictures before hustling off to the neighbors for a New Years Eve party, friends, food, chat, and lots of fireworks (being legal in MS). Late night retired to WiFi to catch up on the trip log photos and notes, knock off by 5-am and get a few hours sleep.

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