The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (September 1 - September 15, 2016)
Thursday, September 1, 2016:
Another catch-up day. I may catch up with this one later (or maybe not).
Friday, September 2, 2016:
By mid afternoon we were off to visit Jim Borkman in Clarence, New York. He has a nice Buy-eye Sprite in the garage, but we found his MGA 1500 parked on the front lawn. It was supposed to be running well, but it had a bit
of a lope at idle speed. That turned out to be rich mixture on the rear carburetor, easily cured by leaning out the rear carb a bit. But then it was idling too fast, caused by out of sync air flow and the front carb closed while the rear cab was hanging open. Loosen a clamp on the throttle shaft between the carbs, close each carb throttle and open it 1/4 turn. then lock the shafts together again, and it could reduce idle under 1000 rpm. A compliant about hard starting in the morning was traced to the choke cable being adjusted too long, causing too much pre-travel before choke and not enough choke at full pull. Shortening the choke cable a bit will cure that.
In the end it was purring like a kitten, and the family was off to get the MGA into the Arbor Day parade, and all is well with the world.
Saturday, September 3, 2016:
For another day off this had some interesting twists. We ran across this '72 Chevy Nova 350SS in the car park, and felt inclined to take the picture. I don't recall when the Nova made the jump from cheap junker to classic collectible, but there it is.
Then the little red magnet outside attracted another enthusiast. Meet Steve Weston somewhere in Depew, NY. He is a member of British Car Club of Western New York, ex-owner of an MGA, currently driving an Australian built Mercury Capri. This touched off a bit of discussion about whether this car had a British
heritage by virtue of having been built in a British colony. That ultimately killed a bit of my time in half-hearted research, ultimately determining that Australia's legal independence from England happened in 1986, a few years before the Capri was built. As a matter of curiosity, the Capri XR2 is rather similar to the Mazda Miata with a baby back seat. It was built in competition with the Miata at a time when Ford owned a controlling interest in Mazda. So I recon it's Australian, not British.
Now my MGA is sneaking up on time for another oil change, so I walked next door to Advance Auto Parts to see if they would have a suitable oil filter. My car has an inverted spin-on oil filter adapter for 1972 or later MGB. Cross reference efforts brought up a CarQuest oil filter 85085 made by Wix, essentially the same as Wix 51068 or NAPA 1086 (also made by Wix). So add another line to the web page for cross reference numbers. After more WiFI work we had a late night laundry run.
Sunday, September 4, 2016:
Today off to Como Lake Park in Lancaster, NY for Autumn Sports Classic Car Show with Buffalo Octagon Association. Count 80 cars, and since this is an MG club, figure 12 chrome bumper MGB, 8 rubber bumper MGB (the '65 MGB pull handle car my favorite), 4 MGA, 3 MG Midget and one AH Bug-eye Sprite. Someone wanted to see my car, so the picture at right is courtesy of Jeff Strong in Eden, NY (and that's his green MGB in front).
A 1951 Riley Drop Head Coupe, with 4.3L Chevy V6 engine, 3-speed automatic, power steering, power brakes, S10 rear axle, air conditioning, Mustang-II front suspension and R&P steering. Toss in a AH 3000, a Morgan Plus-4, a Mini Moke, at least 6 Triumphs, 5 Jaguar (3 vintage and 2 newer), and 1 Datsun 260Z (with a bit of British heritage).
For more European a Fiat 2000, a newer BMW, and a couple of middle age Mercedes and a Porsche 356. Being a "Classic" car show there were quite a few examples of vintage American iron. You can have fun sorting those.
A pair of Corvairs, a 1954 Corvette, and a very slick 1934 Chrysler Sedan Delivery.
Just for fun, there was a trial for the guys to see who could make a coat hanger as straight as possible in 30 seconds. Not to be left out, the gals had 30 seconds to blow up the largest balloon (or burst it first). More later?
Lots of time spend distributing prizes for the Chinese auction and the 50/50 raffle, followed by time to present nearly 50 trophies for the 80 car show. A good time was had by all, and then were off to find AC and WiFi (so you can have these photos and notes).
Monday, September 5, 2016:
This morning we woke up in Bath, NY, 90 miles southeast from Lancaster. I recon we got here sometime in the night. We were heading 15 miles north east to Keuka Yacht Club north of Hammondsport, NY, at the south end of Keuka lake (of one of the finger lakes). The airplane (don't ask) was just part of the nice scenery along the way among the nice rolling hills. We were here to meet John T Brown from Corning, NY, who would be found racing his small sail boat every Monday (weather permitting). What does this have to do with us? It just goes to show that we go out of our way to meet people with MGs.
John has a nice MGA, and he drove it today to meet us at the yacht club. The car is a 1962 MGA 1600-Mk-II which he purchased new in April 1962 (must get the chassis number). First he had to button up his boat.
Then we had a short chat before John had an appointment to take a couple of friends for a ride in a small power boat (while we pigged out on pizza). As yacht clubs go, this place is generally casual, a nice place to bring the family for a picnic in the shade. And it has WiFI, so I could catch up on some work while we were waiting.
Heading north in the evening we were following this nice old Ford for a while. Not sure what engine is in there, but no problem running 60-mph on the country roads. We had about 15 seconds chat at a traffic light. He's a local NY resident, and he appreciates our regular cross country driving of our vintage MGA. That's what they're made for.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016:
This evening we had a dinner meeting with MG Car Club of Central New York at Barbagallo's Restaurant in East Syracuse, NY. Outside there were at least 10 MGs and a few more interesting cars (with more to arrive later). Inside at least 25 people present by the time dinner was over. Fairly typical club meeting with old and new business, event report and planning, who has a new car, etc. The MGA guru did a few minutes about travels and tinkering on cars and such, which let to come spill-over discussion after the meeting.
Meeting one Don Nelson, we were going to investigate his MGA in the car park that had some odd "clunk" when starting from standstill and sometimes when shifting gears. Well, it wouldn't start. First we found an odd battery cable grounding connection that was a little loose, tightened that up immediately, but it still wouldn't crank. Check revealed 10 volts power on the starter motor without any motion at all, so it may be a stuck pinion gear. Put it in 4th gear and give it a good shove backward to turn the engine backward, accompanied by a loud click which freed up the starter pinion, after which it started okay. Check off problem #2.
Then we had the car putzing around the car park a bit trying to replicate the reported "clunk" when it sputtered and quit for lack of fuel. This seemed to be a loose wire on the fuel pump, and with a bit of wiggle it began clicking (but only slowly). After another minute, putzing around the lot it quit again, needing another wiggle of the wire to get it going again. Scratch problem #3. So we forgot about the possible odd "clunk" and decided to follow the car to be sure it got home okay. It conked out twice more on the way home and again as it rolled into the drive way. Frustrated, put it away for the night, and change the fuel pump later. Then we relaxed for a late night chat for a while until it was time to toddle on our way. By midnight we were camped out just north of Binghamton, NY.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016:
Morning email check, a couple of tech questions, a couple of text messages, and we were off again. Expressways through the rolling hills gave way to more remote twisty roads before we hit the big city traffic. By half past two we were crawling up a steep driveway to visit Chris Rich in Dobbs Ferry, NY (near New York city).
First order of business was to open and inspect a parts order I had shipped to this place. It contains a new clutch pressure pate, friction disc and release bearing (among other small bits) which will be tossed into the trailer for future reference (just because the old clutch is approaching 100,000 miles in service).
Then we got to check out Chris' "go-kart". Chris has a very nice 1500 style MGA Twin Cam in restoration, body off repaint done, and the chassis approaching the go-kart test run stage but needing a lot of TLC and some opinions and advice for reassembly. There was chat and lunch and a scratch and sniff session with the car checking out parts on hand and state of the project. An oil leak up front led up to remove the crankshaft pulley to determine that it needs a Speedy-Sleeve to correct a scratched seal surface. We spent some time trying to realign the new exhaust system, but it seems the center pipe is bent a bit whacky causing the muffler to hang cockeyed.
The late night chat seemed to run a little too late, so it was time to crash and "take the matter up later".
Thursday, September 8, 2016:
Today was to be more constructive. Start by cutting down the to-long" tie rod ends, slice it off with a hacksaw and grind it square. It is silly that every individual customer should have to do this. If correct parts are not available, at least the vendors should modify the parts en-mass before sales.
Notice the special bracket for the Twin Cam starter switch to position it out of the way of the air cleaners. We were installing and lubing the felt bushings for the steering column, cleaning splines and sorting out bolts and installing the steering column U-joint, and doing a preliminary front end alignment. After lunch there was some discussion about fitting seat belt brackets, Lift-The-Dot fasteners, rag top and tonneau cover. We were gathering parts and roughly positioning wiper motor, dipper switch, master cylinder assemblies, wiring harness and P-clips.
With a break in action on the Twin Cam, I had an opportunity to tackle repair of the broken fiberglass on my trailer. Hard to believe I've been putting this off since mid August, and carrying the repair kit around for more than two weeks. It wasn't such a big chore. Remove the tail light, push the broken pieces roughly back into place, wrap the outside with duck tape to hold it temporarily in position, and do a bit of power sanding inside to remove paint and roughen up the fiberglass. Cut a few squares of fiberglass cloth, mix a couple ounces of resin with a bit of hardener, and slap it on with a cheap disposable paint brush.
Maybe 5 to 8 minutes to mix the resin and get it applied before it gets too thick to brush, so do just two layers of cloth before mixing more resin for another two layers. Then leave it alone for a couple of hours. Best to finish it tonight, so about dusk run around the port with a hacksaw blade to clear the aperture, poke the tail light back into place, run a drill through the small holes and install the screws. Finally run a power sander around the outside edge to trim the tails and smooth it out a bit. More finishing can do later.
We also pulled and reinstalled the Twin Cam windscreen assembly to install rubber grommets on the posts and rubber seals under the frame, and grab handle fasteners. With all back in place, a final trimming of the bottom rubber seal at the ends, and it kind of looks like a windscreen.
Friday, September 9, 2016:
First stop today, late morning was a check on Bill Peters in Rockville Centre, NY (Long Island). He was listed as a vendor rebuilding steering wheels. Phone number was non-functional, so we dropped by to ring the door bell. Result of visit: moved away in 2003, now deceased. Remove one listing from the Shops list.
Next stop was Apple Hydraulics in Calverton, NY (father out on Long Island) in early afternoon. Interesting place. They rebuild hydraulic shock absorbers (for almost anything in the world), sleeve master cylinders, and rebuild carburetors. Working in same location for 25 years, looks like 50 years? Not a foot of spare space anywhere, lots of machinery, lots of shelves and benches covered with parts and tools. And apparently busy, busy, busy.
They say MG shocks might be 10% of their business. Most of the shocks I saw were substantially larger than MGA/MGA units, and many were older. There were 1932 Duesenberg shocks and truck shocks.
The parts from a 1935 Buick caught my eye, as they include all of the suspension parts from the kingpin down in one casting, and the swing arm carries the wheel bearing spindle. The motor bike is a Wizzer conversion kit bolted to a standard bicycle. No idea what that's doing here.
Third stop for the day was to visit Richard Moores at Classic Automotive repair in Dix Hills, NY (central Long Island). This is a home business, and been at it for 40 years. He has his own cars here as well as customer cars. We managed to squeak in enough time for another oil change for my MGA. And he called a few of his MGA owner friends for some social chat. MG folks are pretty much the same everywhere, plenty of car stories. But time flies, and then we had to be going.
Then we had a meeting with MG Car Club, Long Island Centre at a park in Farmingdale, NY (a little closer to NY city). There was a building they could use in case of inclement weather, but on a warm summer night they prefer to serve coffee and cookies in the parking lot, closer to the tire kicking car talk.
There was an MGA with an interesting cooling system adaptation. It had a smaller aluminum radiator with electric fan located underneath the air pan, connected in series with the original radiator. A few additional parts, but it apparently works quite well.
But we weren't finished yet. Another hour and a half east again for our fifth stop today to see Woody Heller in Wainscott, NY (far east end of Long Island) for a pre-arranged midnight rendezvous. We saw a Porsche, a Manx dune buggy, a Dino Ferrari, and a very nice concourse winning MGA 1500 (more about that one later after we all get some sleep).
Saturday, September 10, 2016:
A casual car show day for Woody Heller. He has a couple of cars he would like to sell, so we were off to take them to a local car show for display. Get the Porsche out of the way, leave the Manx and Dino there. Take Woodie for a run in my MGA. Go get a Cobra kit car and another Manx out of storage (and pick up another driver).
Back to home, get the nicer MGA out for a little exercise. Take the Cobra, Manx #2 and MGA to the car show, leave the Cobra and Manx there with extra driver, and drive the MGA back home. It was interesting driving a VW (Manx) that would burn rubber off the line. I declined a drive in the 427 Cobra (nuts, huh?).
For more pictures from the car show see a following page
Then back home with Woody's MGA to pick up my MGA (because it carries tools), and off with two cars to Georgia Services, Ltd, in East Hampton, NY. Maybe just a coincidence that a bunch of VW and trucks caught my eye, but there was also a Jaguar in the shop, some large American origin cars out back, and more odd things to boggle your mind. This place is definitely going on my North American Shops list.
Woody gets some of his cars serviced here regularly (including the MGA), so we have some ulterior motives for being here while we tinker a bit. His MGA was running a bit rough at idle, so needing some adjustments. The car has a vintage Derrington cross flow aluminum cylinder head dated August 1959 (very nice), so there are a few odd linkage issue. There was nearly zero tactile feeling to the throttle pedal, so we installed a throttle cable return spring (also a safety device) at the carburetors. We found a choke return spring loose and reconnected it. The ignition coil was then interfering with the choke arm, which we fixed by rotating the coil bracket around the generator. That killed the engine until I figured out some odd wiring for the ignition. This has a Pertronix ignition module hooked up for negative earth, with the final wire in the circuit running from the ignition coil to ground return. It was connected to the coil mounting bracket, which had lost its ground connection on the generator when it was moved a bit. Tightening a few bolts fixed that problem. The choke pull cable was adjusted too long so it had very little choke at full pull. After shortening the pull wire the fast idle cam link had to be relocated to another hole on the cam. Then a standard carburetor adjustment got it idling smoothly.
There was a phone call from Woody's friend at the car show. Someone was interested in the Cobra, so Woody asked if they would like to drive the car. This ploy got the car returned home (without incident) so we didn't have to go get it after the car show, allowing us to continue working on the MGA. [A couple days later it sounds like the car may have a new owner, so the car show routine was paying off].
The MGA heater water valve had been relocated to the heater shelf with an custom adapter manifold block. The control cable needed adjustment to pull it to the full off position, but it still passes heat to the cockpit, so it may need a new water valve. There have been some reported problems with coolant temperature running higher than expected. It has a re-cored radiator with modern VT style core, which is likely a large part of this issue. Recommend installing an original cell core for the radiator.
There was a weird problem (meaning something I hadn't seen before) where turn signals and brake lights worked, except brake lights also lit up the right front turn signal lamp. Poking around a bit with the test light finally revealed a jumper strip on the turn signal relay box connecting front and rear right side lamps. Duh? Blame the DPM. Removing the jumper solved the problem, so brake lights and turn signals work normally. Then we had an extended chat with the shop owner about what we had done to the car, and what might still be needed (like re-coring the radiator), and some other trivial stuff about some cars currently in the shop.
Returning to Woody's place we had a bit more personal chat, and some pizza while we caught up a couple hours of WiFi work, then headed west closing on 9-pm. We were ambling over the Queensboro Bridge around 11-pm, then heading due north, ultimately landing near Great Barrington, MA in the small hours of the morning.
Sunday, September 11, 2016:
Fairly early start today amble into Great Barrington, Massachusetts for a gimmick rally with Berkshire British Motor Club. Some cars were coming from more then an hour away, and an early morning rain storm apparently scared off a lot of open top cars, so we had just three cars (in addition to the rallymaster in a sport-ute). There were my MGA, a Daimler SP 250 (2.5-liter hemi V8), and a Spitfire. No rain by rally time or the rest of the day, so a lot of pessimistic folks missed out on a good time.
The rally ran mostly back roads thorough parts of Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, ending at home of Dave and Gail Roberts in Otis, MA (not that house). Two more cars waiting for us were resident here, a TR3 (Dave's daily driver car) and a Triumph Stag with transplanted TR6 engine (Gail's car).
There followed a nice BBQ with burgers and bangers and lots of car chat, chuckles at the answers to the rally questions, and the awards (third place for sure). Then some tire kicking, and a good look at the hemi engine in the Daimler.
Dave also has an Austin A40 under restoration, kind of neat to see one undressed, but a long way to go yet.
Then the Stag was tucked away with another TR3 under restoration, while the driver TR3 was nested in the (other) workshop. Not surprising which one gets the most attention.
Once the party broke up Dave an I had some chat about the A40 project, and possible need to rebuild carburetors on the driver TR3. Rather than move on in late evening, we were invited to stay over (which we did). That gave me a couple more hours late night to catch up a bit on posting photos and notes (three days behind for lack of WiFi time).
Monday, September 12, 2016:
Today Dave and I got to work on the driver TR3. It has been a near bullet-proof daily drive for years, but idled a bit rough (mostly running rich). I found a loose jet bearing retaining nut on bottom of the front carb,
leaking a bit of fuel and preventing adjustment of the fuel mixture. Also a choke return spring disconnected (all easily fixed), but still running grossly over-rich on the front carb. That one had a mismatch of dash pot damper rod and dashpot cover, having a vent hole in both where there should be only one vent hole (notice fluted plastic cap nut on the front carb). The fix here was to snatch the proper unvented damper rod from one the TR3 parts cars (at least three of those here I recon). Still running bit rich on both carbs and at end of adjustment, the final fix was to lower the metering needles a tiny bit, after which it tuned up to run like a charm. The likely culprit here would be fuel jets worn oversize by needles dragging
when not properly centered, for which the best fix would be new jets (and maybe needles too). We finally took it for brisk drive on the local fun roads, resulting in a few oohs and ahhs and a big grin (runs well).
Then we took a look at Dave's Royal Enfield 500 motorcycle. This runs well but has a small but disturbing oil leak somewhere up top. The cylinder head is dry but the block cooling fins are wet with oil, implying an oil leak at the head gasket. We wiped it as dry as possible and let it run for while, but the oil did not reappear immediately. The crankcase and gearbox housing was a bit damp, so maybe the leak is somewhere lower and just blowing a bit of oil upward onto the cooling fins.
Enough fiddling for one day, put the toys away, catch a little more chat, do a quick email check, and we were off again for another cruise north. This put us into Bennington, Vermont rather late night, making our way through lane-and-a-half gravel roads with hills and twisties in the dark. The GPS gave two different locations for the same street address, on two different roads with the same name (go figure). The first yielded incorrect location and box number. The second was on the correct road but half a mile out of place. Having been here once before in daylight (two years earlier), we finally found the right hidden driveway in the dark (really dark). This gave us a little time to chat with Al Chicote, President of Berkshire British Motor Club and our rallymaster on the rally a day earlier. Amenities in Bennington were mostly dark, so we tried ambling over to Hoosick Falls, New York (near next day's appointment). Amenities there were generally non-existent, so we ambled another 25 miles west to Mechanicville, NY to spend the night. Such is life when you're "out on the edge".
Tuesday, September 13, 2016:
Figuring for breakfast and email check in Mechanicville, things got a bit tied up with email, tech questions, and another bash at getting caught up with photos and trip notes. I got some of it done, but time was flying away when we finally bailed out rather late for today's appointment. One phone call and we were sailing east on NY-67, but a bridge out in Schaghticoke, NY rerouted us on a more southern route via Fishermans Lane, Doty Hill Road, East Schaghticoke Road, Valley Falls Road,
Reservoir Road, and finally NY-7. It may have been one mile and 4 minutes longer, but surely we got the more scienic route. 45 minutes on we were back in Hoosick Falls, NY to visit Joseph Ahrberg. He has a couple of MGBs and an MGA under restoration (hiding somewhere). Chat and pizza and more chat until it was late enough. When the hosts turned in I got to work for a few hours, and waddaya know, finally caught up on photos and notes.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016:
Checking out a few of Joseph's toys today. Not sure what to make of the blue MGB in the grass, didn't ask, looks like a driver car but maybe hasn't moved for a while. The red MGB in the garage is definitely a regular driver, and I love those pull handles and everything that goes with the early model. The MGA 1600 is doing well in restoration, nearly ready for finish paint, and the rolling chassis is nearly ready for the "go kart" drive.
Had some quality time in the garage, mostly working on the "go kart". The steering seemed to be a bit too stiff. Backing off the two rack dampers didn't make much difference, so the tie rods need to be disconnected to determine where the drag originates (some other day).
The front disc brakes were also dragging notably. Cracking one bleed nipple open allowed the wheels to spin free, so the issue has to be residual pressure in the master cylinder. All too common in recent years, but also will keep for later. Radiator and electrical connections and fuel hook-up are in order to allow starting the engine. Exhaust pipe is a bit misaligned giving problem mounting the muffler, so the pipe will need a slight increase of one bend (order for another day).
The spin-on oil filter adapter was leaking at the adapter to block joint. Joseph had it off to glue the rubber gasket seal onto the edge of the adapter, and it had been drying over night. We looked at the need to modify the center bolt to avoid jamming the filter in place (recently corrected on new issue parts but not this one). Decided to install it as-is and worry about the mod later. End result was an oil gusher on the floor with first start, so it came off again for re-installation of the O-ring, one more time. All due curses all around as we were running out of work time. Dump some kitty litter on the oil spill, and close up shop for the day.
Heading west again in the afternoon. We have been enjoying the rolling hills in New York for nearly four weeks, and not quite finished yet. Six hours and 300+ miles later we were more than 300 miles farther west.
Thursday, September 15, 2016:
Starting the day with visits to a couple of service shops. First up was Ken-Ton Import Car Centre Ltd in Buffalo, NY. Nice place very busy. Lots of modern cars sitting around, but they do work on the the vintage British stuff as well.
Next stop was Apex Automotive in Clarence, NY. That would be the three double deep service bays on the left. Meet Nate, the proprietor, a friendly soul. They service modern cars here (mostly European I think) as well as vintage British stuff. Some of the employees have vintage British cars. Next door in the same building (same street address and landlord for Apex) is Clarence Hollow Motor Cars (and Collision Repair) who will also do restoration work on vintage cars, so you may find one-stop shopping here.
In the evening we were off to Atlantic Family Restaurant in Webster, NY for dinner with several members of MG Car Club, Western New York (same club we toured with on August 24). One other MG our front, and no reservation noted with the hostes, so we had to grouse around a little to find the small group inside (two tables). Nice chat over dinner, and some left early for an ice cream run before the club meeting.
Then we headed over to the Knights of Columbus for the cub meeting. Better luck here with several MGs out front and people kicking tires. Inside open bar followed by the club meeeting with 30 people or so. The guru did a short song and dance, but no one seemed to be needing help with an car. Just as well, as we had another pressing appointment pending. I bagged a club T-shirt in the raffle before departure.
Then we tanked up the car and headed back east after 9-pm for nearly 5-hours on state highways in the dark rolling hills of upper New York state, finally catching six hours nap at a rest stop on I-87 (not quite sure where).