The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (November 1 - November 15, 2016)
Tuesday, November 1, 2016:
Time for some work on Dan's MGA today. The original turn signal flasher unit had threaded holes in the connection tabs where the harness wires would be screwed in place. The replacement flasher unit had plain holes that were too small for the original screws, not threaded, and came with a few very small screws with hex nuts. No one wants to be fiddling with miniature wrench and screwdriver (while losing the tiny screws), so we opted to install a headlight connector as a plug-in socket for the flasher unit. That was quite easy, and came out well in execution.
Next up was to refurbish the pneumatic time delay turn signal switch, which was tricky enough as a stand alone project. But the wood dash panel had all round holes, where the original steel dash had punched "D" shape or double-D holes to secure non-rotation of the devices. My creative solution to prevent rotation of the turn signal switch was to drill and tap a #10-32-UNF hole in the front face of the switch body, and drill a matching clearance hole in the dash panel, and secure the switch with a #10-32 screw. Very nice.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016:
The MGA fuel pump was mounted far too low in the chassis, about even with bottom of the frame, and we wanted to fix that. It turned out only the mounting bracket was upside down, which looked easy enough to correct. This required a considerable amount of push and shove and crow bar work to reform the steel pipes (one of which had a kink in it courtesy of the DPM). But in the end we succeeded. Just keep repeating to yourself, "Failure is not an option". We followed this up with a flow test of the fuel feed, finding nearly 15 gallon per hour free flow at the hose to the carburetors, so I recon the kink in the steel pipe is not a problem. That MGA is now a pretty sweet ride with everything working and I recon it will be a reliable driver car.
Another parts package arrived, so back to the locker to retrieve the TD. The parking brake didn't work, so jack
up the rear for a look underneath. A little prying on the levers at the wheels verifies the parking brakes work at the wheels, so it looks like the cable is jammed so the hand lever cannot pull up. Bummer. May need to replace the cable(s), but that would be a job for another day.
The tricky chore today was to get all of the dash lamps working when we didn't have the last couple of bulb sockets. That's when I got creative and repaired one of the old sockets using a brass tube wire end and a plastic sleeve from a crimp-on wire terminal to be soldered onto the wire. It was a bit of a pain, but it saved waiting for another parts order and we were finished today. TA-DA! New harness installed, and the TD back on the road.
But, we still have some daylight, so not finished yet. Next endeavor was a 20+ mile 30 minute drive to the east end of Columbia to visit Elliot Cox who has a nice Jaguar E-type with tri-carbs installed. Very difficult to start, and rough running when it does run. I inverted three throttle arms to put the adjusting nuts on top (as a matter of convenience). Otherwise not too tricky to balance and tune the tri-carbs. They were initially adjusted very lean, which is why it was hard to start and had very rough idle. I couldn't connect the choke cable because it was badly frayed, so that will have to wait for another day. Otherwise it now runs like a Jaguar, and the owner is very happy.
Did I tell you he likes Jaguars? There are at least five of them here.
Last task for the evening was a short ride to retrieve another one so it could be home with it's siblings after dark. He's not sure why he has the BMW, but the Buick Riviera is a personal reminder of earlier years. He knows he has too many toys, and he intends to thin out the fleet some.
Now that play time was over, I had to catch up with several days worth of photos and notes. Also last game of the World Series baseball, tuned in at mid game. Go Cubs! That killed a couple hours more. Likely no sleep tonight, but I did get caught up with business (sort of).
Thursday, November 3, 2016:
We cut out of Lexington, SC by mid day with an afternoon WiFI stop in Milledgeville, Georgia. Mature cotton fields were reminding us that it is by now Fall in the deep south. Got a text message, followed by a phone call, followed by a redirection, and by late night we were hovering on the outskirts of Albany, GA in preparation for next morning's appointment.
Friday, November 4, 2016:
Mid morning visit with Bill Waller in Albany, GA. Bill has two MGB, the '79 with engine out for rebuild, and the '69 which has not run for several years, but wanting to get going again now. Notice the leaves all around? Are we getting a message here? For now, 75dF in November is a bit strange for a Chicago bloke.
Fresh fuel in the tank, fully charged battery, switch on, but fuel pump was not running. Quick check with a test light shows no power to the pump. Quick to apply a jumper wire to make the pump run (will trace the circuit later), after which the pump ran but didn't pump fuel. Disconnect input hose, blow on hose, hear bubbles in the tank indicating presence of fuel. Apply suction to the hose to draw fuel (at least it was fresh fuel and didn't taste too bad), reconnect hose to pump, after which it leaks copious amounts of fuel. Cut off frayed end of hose and reconnect, after which it leaks "somewhat less". Disconnect hose from filter in engine bay, and it moves fuel forward. Reconnect hose on filter, but then the pump is gushing fuel on the ground. Bummer. Snatch a replacement fuel pump from the magic trailer, and install it (with a filter on the inlet side), after which the filter up front is gushing at the inlet pipe (cracked plastic filter). Remove front filter and connect hose to carburetor feed pipe, and we finally had fuel in the carburetors. Poke around with the test light to find disconnected snap connector in the engine bay, reconnect it, and then the fuel pump runs with the ignition switch on.
Crank to start, but no fire. No spark from coil (due to severely corroded ignition contact points). Emery paper the points to get good grounding contact, and we had good strong spark from the coil, but still no fire. The ignition rotor looks good, so check continuity of the HT wires. Found no metal terminals on the distributor ends or coil end of the HT wires, and the HT wires showing open circuit. No spare HT wires on hand, and none found at the local stores. Bummer, the first dead end for the day. That close to having it running. Order HT wire set and a spare ignition rotor.
Next issue was no brakes. No fluid in the master cylinder so put some in there. Pump, pump, but no pressure. Try bleeding the LR wheel cylinder, pump, pump, but no flow at all.
Get a trigger pump oil can and small hose to inject fluid at the bleed nipple. Pump, pump, pump, but no go, no bubbles at the master cylinder reservoir, no fluid or air getting through. Try again at RR wheel with same results. Bummer again, second dead end for the day. Most likely a clogged brake hose, so order up three new hoses (and also a clutch hose while we're at it). Making the work list for another day. Check around the car and make more notes. I recon that's about all we can do until the new parts arrive. Call it a day.
Back on WiFi for a while, then move on. By late might we were nesting in Columbus, GA in preparation for next appointment.
Saturday, November 5, 2016:
Mid morning visit to the personal shop of Phillip Clark in Columbus, GA. Been here before, but there seems to be another parts car now, a GT this time. Phil needs a little help with his MGB driver car.
And there Phil's MGB restoration project, along with the Firebird V6 engine to make it go, sitting pretty much where it was last time we were here.
Before we got too busy, I wanted to check out his MG SA under restoration. I know it's here somewhere. Apparently this is an MG SA: Frame, engine, rear axle,
front wings, rear wings, body cowlings and tunnel,
Wood central body buck, fuel tank, dash panel, exhaust parts, bumpers, running boards,
rear body buck, firewall with tool box, front body cowl with part of windscreen frame.
Yeah, it looks like an MG SA to me. Makes us wonder if Phil will live long enough to get it all back together.
We were just getting a good start on Phil's rear brakes, got the drum off, things disassembled, and a few parts back together. By then a few more friends had arrived, and there was a call for lunch break. The MGA 1600-MK-II (with a failing fuel gauge) belongs to Larry Stephens in Columbus. There was a 1979 MGB belonging to Dave Arwood from Smith's Station, Alabama (timing chain reset last time we were here). And also a 1964 MGB belonging to Jim Walton in Columbus. After five for lunch we were back to work in short order.
Once the rear brakes were reassembled we had another problem. The brake shoes are properly nested with the return springs behind as they should be. The tension spring at bottom (in front) is the return spring for the parking brake lever, installed as it should be. But notice the large notches in the lever just behind the lever return spring.
The lever is fully returned and at rest in normal position with the cable pull end of the lever nearly touching the brake backing plate. Problem is those notches in the lever leave way too much pre-travel clearance. The lever will move through full pull travel before it comes into contact with the slot in the shoe, meaning the brake shoes do not move, and the parking brake will not work. Duh? The brakes should work otherwise, so put it all back together and come back to the parking brake problem another time. Put new lever assemblies on the next parts order list.
Then we moved on to a hydraulic problem. The clutch system was slowly losing fluid so it needed periodic refill. Clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder were new with minimal miles in service. Fluid had to be leaking somewhere. The clutch slave cylinder appeared to be dry all over, so we pulled the cover off of the master cylinders. Sure enough, the nearly new clutch master cylinder had a small fluid leak at the pushrod end making the rubber dust cover drip. This was the less expensive "aftermarket" unit (about 1/4 the price of the OEM part). Bummer. Order another one, and return the defective part. Meanwhile we disassembled the older used clutch master cylinder to see if it might be suitable for rebuild NO such luck. The piston was stuck, had to be hammered loose and forced out with compressed air, end the bore was rusty where it would likely defeat the outboard fluid seal. Rather discouraged all around, call it a day, but generally satisfied that we made some good progress.
Back to WiFi, finally finished posting the Chicago club November newsletter on line, and managed to make a hard drive data backup (which happens very two months or so).
Sunday, November 6, 2016:
Back on Standard Time, the sun popped up early but it will be dark around 6-pm. To the rest of the world it looks like we have a day off. But to me that means play time is over and I have to get back to work. Catching up with a few days of photos and notes, email, couple of tech questions, some contacts and planning for the next couple of days. Man, it got dark early. I can hear my sun tan fading already.
Monday, November 7, 2016:
Dave Arwood's MGB fuel gauge problem may be a non-problem. Apparently he has only driven the car a couple hundred miles, and he tends to top off the fuel after a hundred miles. So it is likely that the fuel gauge never dropping below 1/2 tank may be normal, and possibly even accurate. So scratch that visit. Another possible Monday appointment was delayed in Atlanta for another day, so sit still and hang out on WiFi today.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016:
Meet Keith Farley for lunch. He's diving his BMW again, having had the head planed to get a new head gasket to seal. He will be otherwise busy for another day, so push that appointment down the list.
Next up is a visit with Ray Mobley in rural Hamilton, GA, about 15 miles north of Columbus. He met us "at the gate" (no number or post box) to escort us up a winding dirt road through the woods to his workshop. This place used to be a small house in sorry state of disrepair. Ray ultimately tore it down an built the workshop on the same cement pad, with some vague idea that it might be turned back into a cabin sometime later.
Today his 1967 Volvo 122 needed a bit of help. It could be made to run, marginally on two cylinders while the rear carburetor float bowl was overflowing profusely. Swapping needles in the float valves did not help. After some investigation I swapped in a good used float valve to stop the gusher. Next issue was no fuel getting from the float chamber into the rear carb main jet. Clean the float bowl best as possible but still no flow to the main jet. These are SU HS6 carbs with external hose between float chamber an main jet, so we needed to remove the rear carb for access.
We had to disconnect the fuel tube from the float chamber, then run a wire through all the ports to clear trash out of the chamber elbow and out of the flex tube to restore fuel flow. Also a bit of lube on the fuel jets to get those loosened up. That done, got it reassembled, fired it up, and gave it a quick tune up. Then it ran well, but we found two molested choke cables in the process, so put those parts on the wish list, along with nylon grommets for the throttle link rocker shaft.
They had been working on the brakes for a while, installing a new master cylinder and attempting to bleed the hydraulics. Results so far are rear brakes locked up, and it was getting late, so leave that issue for another day.
Closing up shop for the night, we toddled on down the road a few blocks to check out a couple more of Ray's toys. He has another Volvo 122, this one a station wagon, and a 1972 MGB. We may take these matters up another day. For tonight back to WiFi and email check, and we'll see what might pop up later.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016:
Used an available day to finish reviewing the last year of our tour to include shops we have visited into the Shops list. Also marked all of the shops and clubs we have already visited so we know which ones we still need to visit. Ir was a long day's work.
Thursday, November 10, 2016:
Spend most of this day listing and organizing and mapping Shops in Georgia, as we intend to go shop hopping beginning tomorrow. Heading north tonight to be in the vicinity of Atlanta, GA early tomorrow.
Friday, November 11, 2016:
Seems like we got started a day late, so must see what we can accomplish today, as many shops are not open on the week end. We skipped one shop in Columbus (the only shop I have listed there), and drove to Atlanta
late night to be prepared for today. First stop was English Engine and Chassis in Powder Springs, GA. Thought we might have struck out at first, no one home here, but left a voice message on his phone. Later in the day he called back to verify that this is the right place, and he is still in business. Work here is all mechanical work on British cars, no body or paint work.
Next up was Global Restorations in Marietta, GA. Definite strike out here, business gone, replaced a few years earlier by G&G Auto Repair (decidedly not British oriented). --- Then for a shop way west out of the way, we called first. Mike's Cars and Parts in White, GA. The phone number turned out to be Donnely Communications, and there is no other evidence of this shop to be found on the net,so presume this one is also gone.
Then nearly 90 miles north we have a winner when we visited The Roadspeed Garage in Cleveland, GA. Meet Barton Miller, who is this business. The MGB and XK-120 are his. Others are customer cars.
Then driving through forest fire smoke, wanting to visit Flashback Motorworks in Cummings, GA, another strike out. Today the building is occupied by American BOA, manufacturing pipe, tubing and hose.
Next try was for Capital Motor Cars in Alpharetta, GA. Another bust, the building now occupied by
Automotion Luxury Cars (nothing to do with British cars).
Around the corner we stumbled on European Motor Cars of Windward, but apparently all German cars. Bummer.
Then we had another winner, Chequered Flag Automotive in Roswell, GA. Another example of a shop that was taken over by employees several years ago, therefore younger management. Say hello to Scott.
The shop is full of British cars (and a few others), but Scott was preoccupied chatting about his MGB "hot rod". The fat tires are for street use, while autocross tires are bigger and stickier. Engine is 1800 5-main with enough tweaks to give something like 140-HP at the rear wheels. He likes to embarrass the V8s.
High lift cam plus high ratio roller rockers giving valve lift around 1/2-inch. Large valves with lots of porting and polishing. Shaved head and flat top pistons. When compression ratio was a little too high the piston tops were machined with a bit of recess to lower the CD some.
On the bench, the oversize HIF carburetors, cool air intake parts and roller rockers. On the side more MGs, a customers' MGB and a Midget under the tarp.
Next door we found NP Imports, LLC, dealing with modern Land Rover and Jaguar, nothing to do with vintage MGs. Then across Atlanta during rush hour. Did I tell you I hate big cities?
We found Phillip Middlton of British Classic Cars. He runs a mobile service shop in the Atlanta area. Today he was replacing a water pump on a Lancia Beta (sitting next to a De Tomaso Pantera he was working on earlier).
Then we were off to find Chic's Road Brittania, LTD in Atlanta, GA. At first this appeared to be a large antique shop, but once I found the right gate around the side of the building, and made my way up the hill to the back lot, we were in. Chic Newman's car says "Union Jack Import Body Shop, but it is more.
They also do mechanical work and sometimes full restorations. One interesting car was apparently an MG TF with wire wheels and XPAG engine, but the title and other paper work have it as an MG TC. Just curious. Chic has been in this location for more than 40 years, and so far still going strong.
Out of there by 5:15 pm, The next leg was only nine miles, but, did I say I hate big city traffic in rush hour? At least we got to see another McLaren on the street. Amazing how fast it went dark in 30 minutes. We we hoping to find two shops in Decatur, GA, but on arrival we found a place named Quantum Mechanics (Modern German and Japanese Automotive Service), not what we expected. Side door was open, so I asked about our quarry. Turns out the shops we were seeking were there, around back, but the folks had left less than half an hour earlier. The "stuff" is behind that locked gate. Seems like they come in to play on Saturdays, so we will take this up tomorrow. I recon we did okay for one long day.
Saturday, November 12, 2016:
Okay, we were past the fence in the morning, and this place was destined to be an interesting visit.
This first batch of cars belongs to Neil's Restorations in Decatur, GA. The building may not look like much at first glance, but remember it's not what your house looks like that counts, it's what you have inside.
Surely you can find something to identify with here. How about a TR6, an MGB, or an MGA chassis getting a Ford V8 squeezed into it?
MG Midget, Austin Healey 3000 (with an MGB race car hiding behind it), and another MGB.
Say hello to Niel Estes. The current pride of the shop is an MGB getting complete make over. The "apparent" V8 engine is a plastic engine block and 4-bbl carburetor used to model the engine bay during reconfiguration. Nice alternator, air conditioning parts, power brakes, aluminum radiator, coil-over front suspension, and maybe Wilwood disc brakes before it's finished. Sweet.
Now the other shop in the same building is Bob Wagner Motorsports (also Decatur, GA, of course).
I had a nice chat with Bill and a few of the associates, and a few friends and customers. Some of these blokes knew me by the car (and trailer) I drive. First peek inside gives barely a hint of what it hidden here. I have more pictures, but they are not for publication (by respect to the shop owner's request and the customers privacy). The stuff is mostly eye candy that would make you drool. Once you get past the tractors being restored, there would be an E-type, and a D-Type, a Marcos, an Elva Courier, a few exotic European sports and race cars, and a number of vintage American cars that will not be cheap. If you have a yen to see this stuff, you can visit the place (and see if they let you in).
Another hour to the east we made our way to rural Shady Dale, GA to visit Ric Cline. About 10 years ago he moved his shop Cline's Sports Car Specialties out of Walnut Grove, GA. He is proud to say that nothing in the shop is his, as it all belongs to the customers.
Color of this MGB immediately caught my eye It is Grampian Grey, a color originally used on 1967-69 MGB GT only. I think it looks very good on the rubber bumper touring car. Then a nice example of rubber bumpers painted body color, and a nicely restored MG TD.
Indoors we find more, MGB, TR6, MGB, MGB, MG TD, MGB. Apparently he likes to work on MGs.
Okay, there is a nice Morgan Plus-4 here too. The twin red MGBs belong to the same customer, and are to swap the engines and make both streetable and reliable. The Mazda RX7 race car is an ongoing pet project. There was a Ford Mustang in for engine work, but apparently only as a favor for a friend.
Being an engineer, this had to catch my eye. It is a vintage camshaft grinding machine, which still works well.
Sunday, November 13, 2016:
This turned out to be a very productive stationary day. I spent the entire day creating cross links from the Shops list to my travel log pages for photos and notes when we have visited these shops. Nice trick. Now when viewing the Shops list you can click on a "visited" link to see photos and notes for that shop. There are so far about 120 of these links and will be more to come as we continue the never ending tour.
Monday, November 14, 2016:
First stop of the day was an attempt to check out BritFix, Ltd in Macon, Georgia. No one home, and two referenced phone numbers are disconnected. Presume this one is out of business, to be deleted from the Shops list.
This was followed by a sprint to Savahanna, GA. First up here was Andy Greene, Sports And Vintage Race Cars. Andy runs this place with one shop assistant, so expect personal service. I didn't see anything Bitish today, but it could happen, like if you wanted to turn your Britush car into a race car.
And in the same building with the same street address, Savannah Race Engineering. These guys are onto some serious fast stuff, but apparently haven't seen an MG in the shop for many years. So if your little British car wants to remain "vintge", this is probably not the place to bring it for service.
The next stop was almost a three-fer, but involved some stumbling. We were looking for Dave Haberman's Auto Repair in Savannah, GA, but this didn't look right (truck bed liner?), and it turned out the shop was long gone,
apparently out of service. Then we found a sign on the building for Savannah Sports And Imports, but alas they too were long gone. While inquiring within, we were advised about Crumley European Auto Repair. They were also no longer here, but a quick search and a phone call tuned up their new location. Ta_Da!
Say hello to Lehman Yaughn, the service manager at Crumley Compound, European Auto Repair. The more significant name here is Jim Crumley, the owner, and another tech or two who regularly work on Vintage cars (you know, folks who understand carburetors and distributors). With a bit of photo lightening, the car inside the service bay is a Porsche 911. The point is, they are ready to service your vintage British car here, and they have arrangements with a body and paint shop nearby who will do the body restoration work, so you can get one-stop shopping for a full restoration if needed.
Then we took a short run south along the coast to visit Frank Chance in Richmond Hill, GA, just because
we were in the neighborhood. This is the guy who is building the "vintage" MGA Fun Buggy. Since we were here eight months earlier on March 15th, the Buggy has been making slow progress (somewhat stifled by the past summer heat). Some panels have been slightly modified to be "more finished", and coated with gel coat in preparation for painting. Still a long way to go, this may be only the second rendition of this vintage Buggy ever built. Nice going, but check back later.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016:
Just one shop visit today, but it's a winner. Say hello to Andy Turner, Service Manager at Pete's Otto Shop
in Valdosta, Georgia. Previously owned by Pete Berard (since 1960), now run by his son Richard "Tiger" Berard (and very good to see the next generation carrying on). I found a Lancia and a Volvo 1800S (with British heritage) in the shop today, and at least the motorcycle is British (I think). They definitely do service vintage British cars here.