The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (January 1 - January 15, 2016)
Friday January 1, 2016
Up by mid morning, and out to the garage to check out Gene Gillam's additional rolling stock. This is his "other" MG TC (also with supercharger). It was originally configured for racing, never raced, but is tractable for street use.
The MGA Coupe has been a pet project for a while. It has air conditioning, a "high capacity" radiator, and electric fan. It had overheating issues for a long time before he discovered the ignition timing was severely retarded. With proper timing it runs much better, but hasn't had a good hot weather workout yet. It also has inner fender louvered panels (ala MGA Twin Cam), which he says drops the coolant temperature about 10dF. Also note the home-brewed wire mesh grill.
Gene also has this very nice all aluminum box trailer built by Montrose Trailers. It has 18-foot bed and opening hatches on four sides (easy access to tie-downs and car doors), and it weighs only 1800-pounds empty. This will be the subject of another article in the Trailers secton of my web site. It leaks a bit around the top of the front hatch door, but that should be fixable.
I spent some time on WiFi catching up email and BBS. This was followed by some work on the new Links web pages for MG Shops in North America (which is off to a good start). Then we traveled east some late at night 120 miles east out of Mississippi, through Alabama, landing just into the Florida panhandle in the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday January 2, 2016
Another 100 miles east we stopped in Freeport, Florida early afternoon to visit Dean Bowman. He has two MGB, a '67 and a '72, both very nice. Story is that one was cheap and the other was free, but both had to be painted and re-trimmed. In the shed he has two MGB hardtops (needing repaint and re-trimming), a spare gearbox and a few more spare parts. All in all he is in great shape with two running MGs, a Porsche Boxter he bought new in the mid 90's, a utilitarian pickup truck, and not much to worry about (no big projects pending). We had a nice lunch together accompanied by plenty of MG chat.
Then we found a WiFI spot in Santa Rosa Beach, FL to catch up with the world again, and took the rest of the day to post more MG Shops on the new links list. This included all (recent) recommendations from the BBS and from incoming email. Finishing just at closing time (11-pm) we headed east another 165 miles, landing in Perry, FL at 2-am. Well, actually it was 3-am due to change of time zone. Would you believe we connected to WiFi again until crashing a 4-am (duh?). No rest for the guru.
Sunday January 3, 2016
Day off (you might think). Up by 11-ish, after catching up with email and BBS, I spent several more hours posting more MG Shops on the new links list. This was a start on the members list of British Motor Trade Association. It was a substantial effort but, so far only through the A's and B 's. Sneaking toward 2-am, will have to take this up again tomorrow.
Monday January 4, 2016
A strange way to start the day, parked along side of this thing. I was always curious about such "Conestoga" wagon wheels placed on modern cars. The tires are 275-25-26 (considering that semi trucks use 22-inch wheels). Left rear has a nasty case of sidewall rash and slightly chewed up wheel. The owner says they were on someone's car but rubbed the fenders, so he got them cheap but has to replace the one chewed tire. Likely $1000 each for the wheels, and if you hit a pothole you likely break the wheel. Not for me, thank you,
More WIFI time in Perry. Making these notes a couple days in arrears, I can't recall everything I was doing to be busy but didn't get to the Shops list at all. I think I was posting more photos of the MGA 1500 Coupe parcel shelf.
Tuesday January 5, 2016
Aside from normal WiFI work (email and bbs) I was beginning to poke around the Florida clubs list to see who's doing what these days (sending some email messages). Have an appointment for tomorrow. Left Perry in late evening, landing in Ocola, FL late night.
Wednesday January 6, 2016
Out of Ocola, and by 1-pm we were in DeBary, FL (east coast) at "Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant" for lunch with All British Car Club of Volusia County (22 people around the table). Center photo is Lou and Sylvia Spradlin who own a 1961 MGA (but not driven today). Photo at right is Barbara Walters (the original Barbara Walters) who bought a 1952 MG TD new and still drives the same car. I didn't ask how old she was in 1952, but you can do the math. She had the TD restored 20 years ago for about 10x the cost of original purchase price. Someone else had an 80th birthday celebration and there was cake for everyone.
Then we were rolling back an hour west to visit George and Joyce Horton in Fruitland Park, FL. This was a special visit, long overdue. The last time I saw George we were in the Kenia Peninsula in Alaska in June 1997, 5000 miles away (in the same country). In those days his internet screen name was ArcticMG. These days his screen name is TropicMG.
(I wonder why he changed it). He is in our 1997 travel log from the Alaska trip. He changes cars occasionally, but today he has an MGA 1600 Coupe well along in restoration. That would be the little blue thing next to the 1959 Thunderbird (in case you couldn't figure that out). We were thinking about installing the headliner and windows in the MGA, but he still has to clean and paint the interior top bows, so maybe we can find something else to do here. Oh, that's his MGB and MG TF in the screened garage, leaving space for his wife's modern Mini (funny how that works).
We spent some time fiddling with threaded fittings on a Bendix fuel pump that was on the MGA when procured. In the end we figured the Bendix pump was 30 years old and maybe not the best choice for the restored car. Then we were looking at a new tech tip. During a recent move George lost the bottom mounting rails for the roll-up side glass in the MGA. Since new parts are not available and good used parts are scarce as hens teeth, George has adapted MGB parts. The MGB parts are 18-1/2 inches long where the MGA parts are 15-1/2 inches long (or a bit less). Solution is to cut 1-1/2 inches off each end of the MGB parts to make them work for the MGA.
Thursday January 7, 2016
Destined to be a long day working on George's MGA, we began by re-hanging thr fuel pipe, brake pipe, side harness and main battery cable under right side of the chassis. Slow going to get it all tucked up safely into the proper locations with correct fasteners. The with a bit of wait for UPS delivery of parts to install the fuel pump, we took the opportunity for a short cruise in the MGA.
We were off to visit Stephen Crabtree at D&H Radiator in Leesburg, FL. He has a somewhat tricked out MGA 1500 with 1800 engine, Weber side draft carburetor, upgrade cam, electronic ignition, AFR sensor, Mini Denso 60-amp alternator, 5-speed gearbox, triple master cylinders for dual line brake balancing, GPS, relays for everything including four 100-watt headlamps (likely illegal), Mallory distributor, high torque starter, oil cooler, eyebrows on the grille (and I'm sure we missed a few items). Hiding somewhere he as an equally tricked out vintage Volvo with 2-liter engine 130-mph capable. I forgot my camera so a bit later we returned with George's MG TF to give that car a bit of exercise (and to get the pictures).
Good timing, we returned just in time for the UPS delivery, then got down to installing the new SU fuel pump with proper fittings and all-metal fuel pipes. That was a bit of a chore, finishing just in time for dinner. After dinner we were back to the shop to adjust valves, re-orient the distributor drive gear, finish ignition wiring, sand-paper the points, fix one flooding float valve, adjust choke linkage, fiddle with one badly sticking fuel jet (stuck choke), add water, fire it up, give it a tune-up. At least Joyce was favorably impressed. It was a lot of work for one day finishing around 10-pm, but feeling good about the progress.
Friday, January 8, 2016
George and Joyce headed out of town for the week end, so we plan on returning later for more work on his MGA Coupe. We were off to find a WiFi spot in the afternoon. No immediate appointments, doing Guru stuff on WiFi and web site, and emailing clubs and friends(mostly) in Florida.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Sitting in The Villages, FL, one of the country's largest planned communities for retired people.
There are at least a dozen of these little Florida Sports Cars in the car park, buzzing around here all the time. They are light weight 2-seater roadsters like my MGA, convertible top, side curtains, boot in the back. Good thing they can be double parked, as there are no parking spaces left here. Lots of these people know about MGAs and stop to chat.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Hey, the Florida Sports Cars come in hard top coupe version too.
I spent much of the day making drawings of more car parts. Then killed the rest of the day emailing car clubs and plotting a wild and scrambled route around Florida (again).
Meanwhile, say hello to Tom Orlando from Staten Island, New York. He is in Florida for a visit, thinking of moving here permanently. A friend of his spotted my MGA and sent a picture of it to Tom, and Tom rushed right over to say hello. Tom has a 1959 MGA in VERY good condition, and a 1964 MGB as a pile of parts. We will have to look him up when we get to NY again.
Busy late with web site work. We were about to crash at 2-am when I discovered a nearly dead car battery. Navigator had been using the DC-to-AC inverter to charge his computer in the car with engine not running. So we used the nifty little jumper box we bought back in November to start the car (no pushing required). Then we drove another 30 miles (south) to recharge the car battery before resting around 3-am. When we stopped the ignition light was glowing slightly, and alternator output (direct battery connection) was only 12.4 volts when running. That had me a bit worried, but it was charged enough to start again.
Monday, January 11, 2016
Slept in (the key ingredient of the day). Drove a bit more south to Bradenton, FL (half down the west coast) another 90 miles. By this time no ignition light, battery open circuit is 12.6 volts (so stop worrying about the alternator). More email to the last remaining un-contacted clubs in Florida. We got lucky and finally got a connection with the MG Classics of Jacksonville, a club we hadn't been able to contact in the past. Now the next 2-1/2 weeks (1500+ miles) looks a lot like the trace at right (subject to change of course).
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Today we noticed this nice blue 1957 Chevy on a nice blue trailer towed by a nice blue Chevy truck. Good start for the next leg of our tour.
Then we headed south for 90 minutes to attend a club meeting with British Car Club of SW Forida in Fort Myers, but it was not to happen due to a failed alternator. This issue has a history.
In January 2007 I installed a used Mitsubishi alternator from a 1967 Mazda RX7 parts car (with just over 100,000 miles on it). Mileage reference for my MGA, 205,768 (after first restoration). At the time I was driving a 1987 RX7 with 184,000 miles, and never had any problem with the alternator, so it looked like a good bet (especially since I already had the part). When we ditched the house and set out on this trip in May 2014, I gave the 1987 RX7 to my younger daughter (the car having almost 200,000 miles and the alternator still working, so the used alternator in my MG still looked like a good bet. Well, in hind sight, in May 2014 the MGA was up to 253,647 miles, so add 47,878 miles to the 100,000 mile used alternator. In the past 22 months we have driven the MGA 67,739 miles. So the used alternator has accrued over 215,000 miles. I suppose I shouldn't be too disappointed that it finally crapped out.
I tend to advise people that if they would install non-standard parts on their car they should not have to modify the car or the new part to do it. Modifying the car might make the process irreversible. Modifying the replacement part makes a non-standard part so a future replacement part would likewise have to me modified in the process of replacement. Well, I did what I tell people not to do, and now nine years later it jumped up to bite my ass (as predicted).
We had a momentary charging problem two days earlier, car not starting, but after a jump start an hour drive with lights on, it appeared to be charging properly. Then yesterday we had cruised a few hours farther down an expressway (no lights). Upon exit in Fort Myer, Florida, we got trapped in stop and stop traffic for a while and the engine was idling a little rough. Not out of fuel, think hot carburetors, so I switched on the turbo blower to cool the carbs, and the engine died instantly, with very dead battery. Bummer. For the curious, the ignition lamp does work, but was not lit when it the battery was (gradually) discharging.
We pushed the car to the side, got a friendly jump to recharge the battery about 10 minutes. Disconnected the cables, and it had enough charge to crank start okay, so figured it should run for a while. Then getting dark, had to switch lights on, but we were only a few miles from destination, so thought we could make it to friendly grounds. Had missed the dinner hour, but could still catch the club meeting. Then got caught by more traffic, and the car once again succumbed to dead battery. When we got a left turn arrow we pushed it around a corner and into a service station, used the magic jumper box to start it again, did a few minutes of diagnostic work, pronounced the alternator dead, and called a friend.
Friend arrived, began jump to recharge battery, made a few phone calls to find a new alternator. Drove (friend's car) several miles to buy new alternator, and bought a set of hand files at the same time. Now the real problem. I should have and would have installed a Lucas alternator (or a Bosh equivalent part), but those are not easy to find locally on short notice. So I bought another Mitsubishi alternator, which had to be modified similar to the old one. The hand files were employed (for nearly an hour) to remove 1/8-inch of aluminum from the rear side of the mounting ear where it attaches to the water pump (for alignment of the drive belt). (That was a lot easier the first time in the home garage with power grinder). Then run a 5/16-24-UNF tap though the adjustment ear to accept the UNF bolt that was already on the car (with a previous HeliCoil), because the Mitsubishi alternator is metric (and fortunate that I had the tap with my traveling tools). Then just reassemble it, and we were back on the road again. All quite simple, but a royal PITA due to the misfit alternator.
Moral of the story is, "Do what I say, not what I do".
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Today we had an appointment with Lee Longstreth in Fort Myers who has a very nice Triumph TR3. The call was for electrical problems with turn signals and horn, but on arrival it wouldn't start. It had spark on all four plugs, and fuel in the carburetors. The choke cable was binding,
preventing full choke, but I pulled full choke at the carb linkage, and it still wouldn't start. Most of the plugs were black but dry, so I didn't think that was a problem. Removed air cleaners and shot some WD40 down the throats, but still no fire. This might be stale fuel, but the fuel was marine fuel with no alcohol only 90 days old. Off to buy a can of starting fluid, and Lee opted for a new set of spark plugs. New plugs installed full choke, but no fire. Starting fluid got it running for a bit, then it quit and would not restart. More starting fluid had it running again, after which we kept it running long enough to warm up, after which it idles well and does not re-tuning.
Then on to the turn signal issue, it would light up but not blink, and no pilot light on the dash. Perhaps miswired flasher unit, which turned out to be correct, but when wired properly still no flash or pilot light.
Must be a dead flasher unit (even though they have gone through three flashers and none of them worked). I happen to have a working original flasher unit on my MGA which is currently bypassed (since I installed a Heavy Duty flasher along with 4-way hazard function). So for test I borrowed the flasher from MGA to connect to TR3, and it worked, flashing and pilot lamp working. Problem solved, the good flasher unit went home to my MGA, and Lee put a new flasher unit on his shopping list.
Next up was the horn not working (but it used to work). Test light is best friend for electrical problems. There was power on both sides of the horn fuse, and power to the horns and power out from the horns (at east the left side where we had access to the wire splitter). Jump wire horn out to ground, and left side horn works but right side not. Separated connector to test two horns independently.
Left works; right ticks with power alternating on and off. Could be dirty contact points but it wouldn't tick without power through the points, so more likely not enough motion of the horn diaphragm to open the points. Pulled cover off of right side horn for test, has power in and power out. Grounding the out terminal makes the tick but no blow. After substantial fiddling and poking at the points and armature and diaphragm, and cleaning and tightening a wire connector, the right horn was finally working consistently. Plugging wires back together and grounding horn out at the splitter connector makes the twin Windtone horns sound line a Cadillac.
That left the non-working horn an issue of contact at the horn push button in center of steering wheel. While trying to figure out how to remove the horn push (without breaking anything) we discovered a push in a particular spot on the button might make the horn blow once in a while. This was apparently a problem with corroded contacts (likely due to long term non-use).
So lots of poking on the button ultimately cleaned the contacts well enough to work consistently. We win.
Time for a test drive (victory drive), but it would not start again. A shot of starting fluid got it going. Put the can of starting fluid in the door pocket until the old fuel can be used up and fresh fuel installed. Oh yes, get the victory photo.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
We dropped into Joe Ciavarella's shop in the south end of Fort Myers today. Been here before, Dec 12, 2014. Mostly a different assortment of British cars this time. I will have to ask about the car with wood wheels.
The MGTD is getting some restoration work, but found some serious problems with the engine.
The Jag V12 is newer and fuel injected, looks like almost ready to go home. The white MGA 1600 is somewhat sad with rusty seized engine, but determined to be restored. There is a better 1600 engine indoors.
The is a AH Bugeye Sprite in primer, looks like ready for final paint. A Jensen Interceptor, a split bumper MGB half buried, and a Porsche 356 fully buried (no picture). (If I don't show the pictures of cars behind the building I don't have to explain those).
The reason for today's visit is to hob-nob with Headley Wilson (also here last year).
We intended to do a little work on his BIG Jaguar 420G or Mark X (limousine). And we did, but only a little.
We managed to disassemble part of the front suspension to be ready for sand blasting.
But we spent more time turning one large roller dolley onto three smaller dollies. They will be handy.
Friday, January 15, 2016
Today we had our second visit to Tech Central (last here Dec 12, 2014). This is Jerry Wilcox's place in Bonita Springs, Florida. Each Friday friends and members of British Car Club of Southwest Florida gather here to tinker with the cars (and general socializing). I like this place with hands on activities all around, and ample opportunity to put or keep more British cars on the road.
Car on a spit, car on a lift, car in the paint shop (being painted today in spite of intermittent rain).
Cars under wraps, cars being sanded and assembled, and club member cars here for service. The MG Midget is well used, runs okay, sort of stops, needs some attention to the brakes (belongs to the nice lady in picture above).
I believe there were three BRG MGBs here today. This one wasn't running (at least not well), had a new Weber down draft carburetor. Didn't want to start in spite of choking and pedaling. Once it was running it was balky with sudden open throttle. I thought maybe the accelerator pump was not working, but sure enough it was. Next guess was very low fuel level in the float chamber. I don't recall the solution (as I got busy with something else), but I think it went home under its own power.
This MGB gave us conniption fits for a while. It was running recently, then just quit. Plenty of fuel flow, power to the coil, points open and close making a test light flash,correct resistance in primary and secondary windings, but no spark from the coil. This implies bad condenser, so we installed a new condenser. Couldn't get the distributor out, so had to fit the new part in situ. Also had to file the hole in the condenser wire terminal to fit (faulty new part). That should have been the end of it, but still no spark from the coil. Grrrr. It was taunting us with an intermittent fire on one cylinder, but no go. Tried a replacement coil with no improvement.
Trip to the parts store to pick up another condenser. Test before install this time. Clamp the condenser to engine mount with vice-Grip, and connect it to the coil with a jumper wire. Car started and ran. Disconnected the jumper wire, and engine died. Repeat again with same results. Proof the new condenser we just installed in the distributor was duff. Double faulty new part. Pain to install another condenser in situ, but that got the car running to go home under its own power. NEVER trust a new condenser.
Then this little jewel caught my eye. One of those little racing alternators that fits in the palm of your hand. Story is, it was on a Magnette, but the owner wanted to install a generator for originality. I don't know how I ever left this place without taking that piece with me.
New Alternator 100211-4531 119620-77202 AM877740 12188 -- Price -- $67.00