The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (July 16 - July 31, 2014)
Wednesday, July 16, 2014:
We stopped to visit The Roadster Factory today in Armagh, Pennsylvania. Nice folks, nice cars (mostly Triumph and some MGB stuff). Now considering attending TRF Summer Party next week.
Chuck's "wood Chuck" wood shop. Anyone want a wood dash?
Moved west. Drove into downtown Pittsburgh for a bit of business. How can a big city with all these cars have no place to park even one car anywhere? I dropped the navigator on the sidewalk to punch an ATM machine while I drove around the block and picked him up on the next pass. We would have stopped at McD's, but it's a walk-in only with no parking. Took 20 minutes to get less than one mile to an expressway ramp, another 20 minutes to get on to expressway and one more mile along. Did I tell you I hate big cities? Finally escaped to a nearby suburb Heidelberg for parking and WiFi.
Thursday, July 17, 2014:
Next morning in Bridgetown, PA. No one near Pittsburgh wants to talk MG today. Day off for the guru. Laundry day.
Late afternoon, tired of sitting still, needing to get out of town for an MG fix. We point it west (so to speak). Going to Chester, West Virginia, (top of the pan handle in WV) via "shortest route". Immediately away from the business district into side streets, hills, lots of turns, sometimes misleading street signs, but it is an interesting drive.
Streets in Chester, West Virginia. We did not take the toll bridge to Ohio, but view across the Ohio river is delightful.
The "Establishments" got progressively smaller. Pretty sure the last one is not a restaurant. We think this is related to sanctioned gambling here, which may not be legal across the river in Ohio.
Another look at the river. Parking for us at the local Pizza shop. WiFi doesn't work at McD's. Then on into the night heading south.
Washington Schoolhouse Road has a bunch of 2nd gear hills to go with tight twisting turns, short visibility, narrow lanes. Great frolic in the dark. This turns into a game of "scare the navigator". Shortest route is definitely not the quickest route to destination, but it got us into Weirton, WV. From there it was mostly WV-2 south along the Ohio River into Wheeling where we stuck for the night, where WiFi doesn't work at McD's.
Friday, July 18, 2014:
Running south from Wheeling on WV-88, then US-250. Two lanes, lots of 3rd gear hills, twisties going up and down We think it is unusual for a federal highway, but I suppose the locals see it as common hills. Somewhat tempted to try a few side roads, but the main highway is challenging enough. There were a few odd "obstructions" along the way, like a couple of free roaming horses, then a lowboy semi unloading a large tracked excavator in the main traffic lane. If it wasn't for pick-up trucks, the roads here would be almost empty. See Pennsylvania Avenue in Hundred, WV.
Passing through a number of sleepy little towns, at Hundred, WV, we turn north to take the short route along WV-69 and PA-18, PA, to Waynesburg, PA. In these mountains (or large hills) the road will commonly follow the valleys with a hop over a narrow pass occasionally. Rail trains are more restricted for hills, commonly following a river bed (or "creeks") to run shallow grades. With no train rails present, the roads will often follow the creeks. In this case the creek keeps changing name, From West Virginia Fish Creek there is Church Fork, Cappo Run, Hamilton Run, Pennsylvania Fork Fish Creek, Garner Run, McCortney Run, Hargus Creek, South Fork Tenmile Creek, and a couple more tributaries perhaps too small to name. We finally get to Waynesburg, where WiFi doesn't work at McD's.
We finally decide to go one mile east to I-79, then run up the interstate to check McD's at every exit until we find WiFi that works. We promptly get stuffed in a construction zone with one-lane one-way flag-controlled traffic. After a few blocks of misery we find another McD's less than half a mile from the last one. WiFi works here, so we stay a while.
We have searched for days to find classic cars in Pennsylvania and this one comes to park along side of us in Waynesburg, PA. Go figure. Oil will not stay in the front shocks, so I just ordered replacement units. These will be delivered to The Roadster Factory where I will install them during TRF Summer Party next week.
Caught up with WiFi we skip the expressway and head north on US-19. More hills, nice road, not much traffic, finally back in Bridgeville, PA, where we started 24 hours earlier (seems like longer). A couple phone calls later we drive a few miles east to visit Ray Brady in Bethel Park, PA.
Here we take the opportunity to do the third oil change of the trip, having driven 10,000 miles in about 10 weeks, with the 4000 mile oil changes happening once a month like clockwork. We sit and chat for hours about Ray's MGA which is a solid "California car" and daily driver type. About 11-pm to starts to rain, and we decide to pitch the tent in Ray's back yard. Ray offers us a plastic tarp, because the grass is wet, so we put down the tarp and set the tent on top. This turned out to be a bit of misfortune as it was in a slight depression, so by 2:30-am we were "sleeping" in a pool of water. So we picked it all up and moved into Ray's garage for the rest of the night. Yeah, stuff happens. Are we having fun yet?
Saturday, July 19, 2014:
After more than a week of anticipation we arrive at Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, all set for the British Car Show (along with lots of other car shows in the same place). With all the rain, local authority doesn't want to let us park on the golf course until it stops raining, so we have more than 100 British cars crammed into a local street for a few hours. About noon we finally get moving onto the show field where it will of course rain some more, like drizzle for the rest of the day.
Model A Ford roadster -- Riley prototype with fabric covered wood body
The Five-O-Nine Special: how much power can you handle in a pre-war roadster?
Three MGA's come to race (a fourth was registered but didn't show).
Lots of TR's (since the TR club was a prime instigator of the Brit Car Show), and a good assortment of MG's (in spite of the rain). There were a lot more cars than appear in this one picture.
This MGA 1600-MK-II belongs to Joe McCurdy in Charlerol, far south PA on the Monongahela River. We followed it home, and good that we did. It died once with dead battery and needed a push start to get home. Diagnostic work revealed a duff control box. A spare unit was in hand, but had screw terminals rather than Lucar push-on's. We used male Lucar wire ends to fashion push-on adapters for the terminal posts to avoid modifying the wiring harness. Finished the job just at dusk, good to go back to Pittsburgh again tomorrow.
Sunday, July 20, 2014:
British Car Display Day at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Finally no rain (just heat and humidity) and a very good turn out of British cars, and British motorcycles.
Nice race viewing spot at the top of Serpentine Drive.
Monday, July 21, 2014:
After catching up with a week end's worth of photos and notes we circumvent the city to the west. Aside from enjoyable driving, we find the Pennsylvania hills are good for the view as well. Get up high enough, and we can get a nice picture of the city. Somewhere along the way (in Moon Township PA) we make a stop at an auto parts store to buy a pair of cheap electric horns. We then continued farther north after dark, and spent the night in Butler, PA.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014:
Word gets around. A friend from Bennington, New Hampshire, called some friends in York, Pennsylvania. The friends in York called the MGA guru with an invitation to their regular Tuesday night get together. So on short notice we fire up the noble steed and drive from Butler to York in about five hours. First meet is with Walter Rohrbaugh (MGB) in Mt. Wolf, PA, and his friend George Reisinger (AH Sprite). We go to early dinner first, then on to the tech session.
The addresses span three streets and two garages (back to back). Prime instigator with the home garage is Daryl Lutz. This is facing a much larger pro-shop type garage with a lift. We meet a dozen or so MG enthusiats with several driver cars in attendance, several more being worked on and many more in storage. It is not officially a club, as yet. No club name, no newsletter or web site. And yet these guys get together every Tuesday evening to work on their MGs (and a few other Little British Cars). With all these tech sessions going on they put a lot of formally organized clubs to shame. Come on, guys, give it a name.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014:
Super hot today. After a morning WiFi session we go a bit south of York seeking shade and breeze at the reservoir. No luck, no shade there, so we duck into the nearest McD's in Red Lion, PA, for cool and WiFi. Nothing happening near York today, so we point it west, telling Mapquest to plot the shortest route to The Roadster Factory in Armaugh, PA. During a fairly long run on US-30 we get soused by a sudden down pour with heavy traffic conditions where we could not stop to put the top up. By the time we got into a gas station with an awning the rain was slowing down. By the time the navigator had a change of clothes the rain quit and sun was out, so we left the top down and drove on for the blow dry. The rest was a jolly good drive through the hills.
About 50 miles shy of destination, a mountain road designated by Mapquest as Crum Road does not exist. Several miles into the mountain we spent at least an hour trying every loop road in the hills, and still no joy, no Crum Road. Dodging many deer along the way, we kept returning to the same fork in the road. At dusk we finally gave up and head back to the main highway. Long story short, we ultimately arrive at The Roadster Factory at 11-PM, find a place in the grass, and pitch the tent in the dark.
Thursday, July 24, 2014:
Business first. Pick up my package and replace the front shock absorbers on the MGA. Pretty easy job actually, maybe 15 minutes each side after R&R of the wheel. The old shocks went back in the same boxes to return to the vendor. While I was fiddling with the car it was a good time to install the new electric horns. This is normally a simple chore just two wires to each horn in parallel connected to original harness wiring, and one bolt for each horn to attach the horn bracket to the car body. As may happen, that one bolt turned out to be in an obscenely inaccessible location, so the 20 minute job turned into more like 90 minutes. But it is done, and the horns work.
The rest of the day was a treat, from noonish on, kicking round The Roadster Factory grounds socializing with lots of other British car owners, kicking tires, impromptu tech sessions, another things that British car owners do in the presence of a hundred or so other British cars and their owners. Night fall brought on a large bonfire and a "Bed sheet Drive-In Movie". Sometime after Midnight we finally hit the sheets.
Friday, July 25, 2014:
1969 -- Woodstock revisited, 45 years on -- 2014
After a good sleep in and quick breakfast, it's time for the Mountain Road Tour and Poker Run. Something like 70 miles driving on nifty little blacktop roads in the hills with a few stops at convenient shops to pick a poker card. The roads were nothing new, actually rather tame compared to some of the short cuts we have been running in recent days, but it was a pleasant cruise in the woods.
We had time then for a casual lunch and a few lawn games before a short drove to Blairsville, PA, for a Cruise Night, parking the British cars on the street with lots of other interesing rolling stock. Then an evening sitting in McD's for the WiFi to catch up a few days, but not enough time to post picturees. Then time to get back to The Roadster Factory for the late night bonfire.
Saturday, July 26, 2014:
Slept in, missed the morning tech session on the TR race car in the show room. Spent time posting pictures to web page (to be uploaded later). Enjoyed great ice cream from the mobile truck on a hot day, along with some entertaining yard games. Went a bit early to Indiana, PA, so we could hit McD's for WiFi to upoad photos. Then off to the car show on 6th street, right in front of The Coventry Inn restaurant. For this round the British cars were grouped by colors for the "concours de elegance" exhibitor choice voting.
After the car show we had dinner at The Coventry Inn. Initial plans were for about 100 people (expecting a small turn out), but increased attendance required considerable overflow onto sidewalk dining. After dinner the car show awards presentation was in front of the Inn, rushed a bit by rain and a collective hustle to cover the cars. After some cars left, the rest had to be moved to parallel park so the street could be opened for traffic. Then we had a brief respite back in the Inn, followed by a 3rd floor screening of the movie "Rush" (directed by Ron Howard) about Formula 1 racing. About 10:30-pm, rain stopped long enough for the trip back to The Roadster Factory. Big bonfire was roaring, but sprinkles and a second threatening storm caused us to park the car, button up the tonneau cover, and duck into the tent for the night. Good timing as it rained gently half the night with sun in the morning to dry things out, and we left the top down (tonneau cover on during the rain).
Sunday, July 27, 2014:
Catch up day. Depart from The Roadster Factory, and sit in McD's in Blairsville on WiFi until a nasty storm wiped out power to the whole town for more than an hour. Escape to Indiana (PA) to another McD's for WiFi until late night, then run for cover just as another rain storm hit. It was a good day not to be traveling much.
Monday, July 28, 2014:
Check email and BBS in the morning, make a few phone calls, then head southwest to Wheeling, West Virginia. We take the shortest route again, kill three hours, enjoy the (somewhat busy) winding hill roads and small towns along the way. Arriving early evening we meet Brian and Rosemary Warmuth (with too many toys).
Along the way someone told us our brake lights were not working. This was an odd failure, as it was working okay one day
and not working at all the next day, not with any amount of pedal pressure. Not the normal failure mode of gradually increasing pedal pressure requirement. Okay, get to the important stuff first. I drug my spare parts box out of the trailer to deal with a wet and decomposing box. (Going to have some work soon to waterproof the trailer). Not much left of the box, but most of the contents have survived okay. Brian found a new box about the same size as I was setting the contents out to dry.
Unfortunately no brake light switch there, so we took Brian's MGA to Advance Auto with a long cross-reference list of switch part numbers. With good fortune we found an experienced and cooperative counter man who spent some time searching through the reference numbers to find the correct Advanced Auto part number. Not in stock, but ordered up for early morning delivery.
While returning to Brian's place I notice his MGA seems to be running very rich with lumpy idle. A quick inspection reveals a sticking choke (main jet) on the rear carburetor. One poke and it pops back up, and the engine resumes nice smooth idle. Diagnostics done, curing the sticky jet can wait for another day.
Then we get to kick back and enjoy nice barbecued burgers and dogs (Brian) and sweet corn on the ear (Rosemarie) and of course late night chat (everyone). For over night Elliot an I get to "camp out" in a mostly empty spare house next door. Long story, but very pleasant "camping".
Tuesday, July 29, 2014:
Back to Advance Auto Parts to pick up the new brake light switch. Borg Warner number S550. Same part number for Advance Auto Parts.
Appearance and configuration is a winner, correct screw posts and all. Easy installation job, just two wires and one wrenching. The old switch needed 7/8" socket, while the new switch needed 1" socket. R&R did not lose one drop of brake fluid, so no bleeding required. The new switch works with very light pressure on the brake pedal and very small pedal travel; could probably activate it with one finger on the pedal, all good. My records reveal the failed switch lasted just shy of 14 months, 15,700 miles (which is the first time I have had one fail with less than 10 years of use).
Additionally, we endeavor to fix a dim RR tail light, which defies logic temporarily. Both tail light and brake light are dim, which implies bad ground. But grounding the housing to bumper with a jumper wire yields no improvement. The bulb is badly silvered inside, so we install a new bulb (gift from Brian), with very little improvement. Oh? Then clean the bulb contacts, with no improvement. Then clean the socket spring terminals, with no improvement. Grrrrr. Finally a volt meter reveals a voltage drop between the bulb base and the socket, which seems odd since the (fairly new) socket appears to have very good plating. Persistent wiggling of the bulb in the socket finally achieves good ground contact, and we have bright light for both filaments. Good going so reinstall the lens and gasket.
Final testing of turn signals and 4-way flashers (my contrivance) reveals a faulty flasher unit, which again seemed to be working okay the day before. Sheesh. This one was a cheap Heavy Duty flasher unit from K-Mart, two of which have failed in the past year. Brian quickly finds a suitable replacement Heavy Duty flasher unit (another gift from Brian). To use the original screw on forked wire terminals we drill and tap the Lucar type spade terminals on the flasher unit for the #6-32 screws, and it is soon installed and working.
Early afternoon we finally hit the road again. The picture shows a typical heavy wire fence to protect the roadway from rock slides. This is south bound on WV-2 on east side of the Ohio River, rock mountain on left and river in the right. On this road we encounter rather boring expressway traffic, or more often slow congeston in the cities along the river. The geography is okay, but not my idea of a great drive. Not destined to go very far, we fill the fuel tank and stop at McD's in Moundsville, WV, for WiFi. Lots of catching up this time, updating a couple of club web pages, responding to a few email messages and some BBS subjects, and posting photo and notes on this trip log web page. Where has the day gone? Now time for dinner, and figuring out where we stay tonight.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014:
Someone told us if we cross the river into Ohio the roads along the river would be "better maintained". So we give it a try. Hang a right from Moundsville over the 12th Street bridge to the Ohio River Highway. Heading south on OH-7 along the Ohio River, we have trees or rocks on the right, and occasional glimpse of the river on left. Otherwise lots of miles of well maintained highway doing 60-mph with no particular destination.
Nice scenery, but still not a great drive, and we were going in the wrong direction for some anticipated future appointments. So we take the next bridge back across the river at New Martinsville, West Virginia. A couple miles south we hang a left onto WV-7-East which soon turns into twisties with occasional 3rd gear hills. Now we're getting somewhere (or nowhere) with a little more style. We are passing through many towns that are too small to appear on the state map, and a few that do.
Near Hundred, WV (within a mile of where we passed a couple weeks earlier), a side road (county 1/3 named Rush Run) has a nice one-lane covered bridge (with no name). Having crossed the bridge to get the pictures, I was curious where the road might go. Just a mile or two on navigator calls it "wrong direction" (south again) and insists on going back to WV-7. Shame, as it was just getting interesting.
A little farther on WV-7 is named Mason-Dixon Highway, with good reason. It is routed very close to the Mason-Dixon Line, division between North and South during the Civil War. There is a lot of history here, including this historical park, complete with signs prohibiting metal detectors and souvenir collecting. I will have to research what the lower three flags mean.
This bridge caught my curiosity, the Robert C. "Bob" Beach Memorial Bridge, crossing Dunkard Creek on Route 39 in the western end of Monongalia County. It is a suspension bridge with the main structural arches in wood, and the under pinnings in iron (or steel rolled and welded). Not as old as it looks, built in 2001.
There is also a little side road there with a sign saying "Bridge, Weight Limit 3-Tons, 2 Miles Ahead". I was curious about this as well, but after a couple tenths of a mile at 5-mph the navigator called it off.
Thursday, July 31, 2014:
So here's what happens when you give me a day off in West Virginia with nowhere to go. We took WV-7 east through Morgantown, then on through Rock Forge, Dellslow, and Brookhaven (you may not find all of these tiny towns on your map). Then north on PA-75 to Cheat Lake. Then east on WV-857 across Ices Ferry Bridge (crossing Cheat Lake) and continuing on Cheat Road. We were looking for an obscure campground in Chestnut Ridge Park. Shortly after passing WV-43 expressway, between Sunset Beach and Great Neck, we turned right into Birch Hollow Road, which goes into Coopers Rock State Forest (which is south of Chestnut Ridge Park). From here we were trying to verify if Birch Hollow Road (going north) would connect to Johnson Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge Park. Mapquest says they both dead end and do not connect (a hint of things to come).
First fork to the right was a 10-mph road (mostly) that ran about a mile to terminate in a "cul-de-sac" among several small cabins in the woods, where we had to turn back. Taking the left fork led to a 2-5 mph road (if you could call it a road) twisting and climbing sharpy through rocks and potholes. We found a small spot to pull over momentarily to allow a 4WD P/U truck to pass. That was hardly necessary, as he wasn't going any faster than us, and we were keeping up with him for the next 20 minutes, at a snail's pace (thank goodness for 6-inches ground clearance under the MGA). We eventually arrived at a "4-way intersection" (sort of) where the road to right looked a little less foreboding than the others. The truck went right, while we appraised the road as getting worse as it went. Not that we couldn't continue, but not knowing how much farther this would go on (or possibly dead end), we decided to go back. Caulk up another 30 minutes getting back to Cheat Road.
Whether or not the "roads" connect up here seems irrelevant, as it is clear the other guy had the preferred vehicle and the MGA is not well suited for this kind of work. Back on Cheat Road we continued north slightly into Pennsylvania, then turned right (generally south) on Wymps Gap Road. This is a better road (relatively speaking), fairly solid asphalt, 20-30-mph dodging potholes and washboard while negotiating steep 2nd gear hills and twisties and waving at some local residents with amazed looks on their faces (little did they know). After crossing back into West Virginia this ultimately connects to County Highway 73/73 paralleling Interstate-68. We take 68 west (because we don't want to go to Maryland) and end up back in Morgantown close to where we started (but at a different McD's). We later looked up the campgrounds in Coopers Rock State Forest and Chestnut Ridge Park via the internet. Not very difficult to access from the interstate highways.