The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (February 16 - February 28, 2017)
Thursday, February 16, 2017:
This was destined to be a long day. Back in Albany to finish reassembly of the MGB after clutch repair. First off was to install the new engine mounts and get the power unit bolted down securely. The new mounts had longer studs on top, and I think the rubber blocks were thicker than original. This made the engine sit a little high with holes for the mounts misaligned. Some considerable pushing and prying ultimately got the bolts installed, and the lifting chain could be removed.
Then we spend considerable time massaging the exhaust system. Old 2-into-1 front pipe was perforated, so a new one was to be installed. This required extraction of the old header pipe from the intermediate muffler. Typical pipe slitting, cold chisel, big hammer, and a few bruised knuckles, but ultimately got the job done. The iron manifold had been farmed out to a local shop to extract the bottom studs with heat, and that was slightly bodged when it came back with three crooked tapped holes. With angles studs the mating flanges would not assemble. Trying to bend a stud into alignment resulted in a broken stud (good hardened studs). So a quick trip to a local parts store for a replacement stud, after which we elongated one hole in each flange to get the parts to mate.
In the end, all clamps and hangers back in place, and the exhaust system was secure (and banished of rattles).
In early afternoon we took a short break for a visit from Tom and Kelly Seegmueller (nearby neighbors in Albany) with a late model MG Midget, the one under recent discussion about possible use of a tow bar. This one lives in town less than a mile away, so these folks are quickly becoming acquainted. Kind of neat to have four MGs together in the driveway. Oh, guess what, another late model MG with Weber carburetor, and no vapor recovery or anti-run-on. I wonder if we might find time to fix that one sometime. A few minutes after the Midget left we had a visit from Steve Highsmith, another nearby friend who had left his 1979 MGB at home (near miss).
We pulled a few more bits out of the magic trailer for valve cover installation, rubber grommets and a distance piece. The silicone cover gasket was new to my experience, kind of a surprise to see the half-round cross section, but it seemed to install okay. Old engine mounts just for giggles. We were pushing the limits of daylight getting the peripheral equipment reinstalled. Just after dark we were ready to switch on an fire it up when we discovered the intermediate choke shaft between carburetors was installed backward so the choke cable wouldn't connect right. Okay, call it a night, and we will hit this again in the morning.
Friday, February 17, 2017:
This job is getting somewhat drawn out, and we were intending to get the MGB back on the road today. First up, loosen the carb mounting bolts, push them apart slightly, flip the throttle shaft around, and clamp it down again. Beat the cable mounting bracket back flat (some DPO bodge in throttle cable mounting), rearrange the cable trunnions, install return springs (not quite like the book illustrations). Then we noticed the missing engine mount rebound brackets which we have forgotten to install the day before.
There would be a slight delay to R&R the top nuts to install the brackets. Right side first, easy peasy. Left side, not so fast. Remember yesterday's mention of longer studs on top of the engine mounts? well today it's bite me time when the lower hex nut cannot be removed. So, jack up the engine enough to get the nut ang lockwasher out, get he rebound plate in, and put the washer and nut back on. I hate non-standard parts. Even seemingly trivial things can cause significant problems.
Trying to install air cleaners, another slight pause to run a tap through threads on the brackets before bolts will go in freely. Put an air cleaner connector hose on the shopping list. All cables and hoses reinstalled, fluids topped up,
time to try firing it up. Battery cable connected, turn key, fuel pump running, turn to "Start" and no-go, no cranking. Might be as simple as a misplaced wire on the starter motor solenoid. Unfortunately we just ran out of time again, as the host has to make a run out of town on a tight schedule. Bummer. I was so looking forward to a ride in the car that has not been roadable for 12 years. So close. Oh well, back to WiFi. I have to write a short "webmaster's report" for the Chicagoland MG Club annual business meeting coming up on Monday. After 10:30-pm we headed west and ended up on Columbus around midnight.
Saturday, February 18, 2017:
MGA maintenance day in Columbus, Georgia. Borrow some space in Phillip Clark's workshop (not the first time we have been here, done that) for an oil and filter change and lube job (just for starters). Easy peasy. Don't bother to unhitch the trailer. Replace the hardened and broken dipstick rubber boot in the process.
Needing to assemble a flex hose to my new mini grease gun (replacing one I left behind somewhere). Who's idea was it to put the port so close to the spring? Had to compress the spring before the hex on the hose would screw in. Then the "T" handle dropped off before I could unscrew the barrel (put that back on).
Then had to fight the funny thumb lever latch for five minutes before I could get the plunger withdrawn. And the thick rubber seal ring was badly out of place where I'm sure it wouldn't seal, and had to put that back in place. So had to fix three or four things before I could use the tool, but happy to say it actually works. High pressure with the one-hand pump, but low volume squirt, so needs twice as many pumps as a big grease gun. Great for a small travel tool.
After greasing the car I jacked up and spun the trailer wheels and greased the bearing buddies. This is a bit of a point. In years past I used to have problems with trailer wheel bearings, repacking and changing seals annually, and replacing an inboard bearing about once a year (cheesy seals). In late 1997 I had the hubs machined to accept better seals and installed Bearing Buddies. Just grease the hubs once a year to keep them fully packed with grease, and haven't have any bearing problems in more than 19 years, 143,590 trailer miles on the (now 216,000 miles on the trailer).
This was also a convenient time to top up the front shock absorbers, not done in some time and lots of miles. I guess it's better if they leak gradually
(as original) rather than bowing a seal.
Then I had some electrical work to do, so disconnect the battery. Love that new AGM sealed battery, no corrosion after three months and 7,000 miles.
Had to replace the lighting switch (which nearly fried the wiring last night).
Jim Walton dropped in for a bit while I was doing some grunt work under the dash. Then I got to do the autopsy on the failed switch. It didn't take long to find the culprit. Looks like the power input terminal was touching the steel keying plate when the switch was pushed fully in to the OFF position. Must be the brass contacts are a bit too long. Not the only contact problem with this switch, Since it was new it would occasionally glitch out with a no-power condition. It would also regularly have the headlights on when in the parking light position (just jiggle the knob to change conditions). Also an issue with the screw terminals which are over-drilled so the set screw tip landing on the bottom hole would cut the wire off like a guillotine. The new switch is same model as the old one (!@#$%^&*). First operation has the parking lights either on or off depending on a jiggle of the knob. Going to have to keep an eye on this one for a while.
Next up was a broken dipper switch, which had failed a couple weeks earlier when the kick cap popped off of the peened over (riveted) end of the actuator shaft. More grunt work, under the steering wheel this time. This may be the fourth switch I had fail in this manner. Not sure if this is a design deficiency or a production problem not setting the rivet properly.
Next on the hit list was to check the heater blower, which we thought was not running.
Turned out it was running, just very slow. Voltage check shows 12.0 volts supply, 0.3 volts drop across the blower switch 0.6 volts drop between switch and motor (snap connector), 0.1 volt drop between motor and ground (snap connector), giving net 11.0 volts at the motor (which is not too bad with engine off). Jumper wires direct from motor to power and ground brought the motor up to 12.0 volts, but not much improvement in blower speed (or air flow). I could stall it with one finger dragging on the motor shaft. This is the original motor where I cleaned up and replaced brushes in 1986, rewound the armature by hand in January 1999, and replaced brushes in April 2015. Well I suppose half a million miles is enough to ask of a faithful friend. Time to look for a replacement, maybe heavy duty type this time, or maybe a permanent magnet motor from MGB.
Then replace 28 year old brittle hoses on the windscreen washer. Turns out the new push pump I installed in June 2015 has non-functional output check valve(s), or maybe no check valve. The foot valve in the fluid bottle is also non-functional. And the aquarium check valves that have been in service for several years (maybe since 2004) have also given up. Put some new check valves on the shopping list, and send a note to the vendor about the non-functional check valve(s) in the push pump.
Tighten fan belt, check seat rails (some need replacing), apply more seam sealer on the rag top (225,000 miles in 19 years). Enough for an 8-hour work day without lunch. Close up shop and head for dinner and WiFi. Suddenly it was midnight in Columbus, and we were heading for Montgomery tonight (really).
Sunday, February 19, 2017:
Tour day with British Motor Club of Montgomery Alabama, kick-off time 9:30 am in Pike Road, AL, with about a dozen club cars assembled and ready to roll. But first I have to check out Terry Young's MGB that got the electrical work and carburetor modification the week before (last Monday and Tuesday). See if you can identify the valves and hoses for vacuum, vapor recovery, anti-run-on, and positive crankcase ventilation.
Then we were off and running, taking some nice side roads about 75 miles to The Old Barn Restaurant in Goshen, AL. It may look like its namesake, but inside very good food, fried chicken, corn bread stuffing, choice of potatoes, bun or biscuit, and deserts to die for. Cool cars, nice drive, good people, good food, interesting chat, nice sunny day, what could be better? When it broke up the gang was taking a couple different routes back to Montgomery. We declined.
Shooting just 11 miles east to Troy we would take advantage of WiFi for photos and notes (first time caught up in a week). Where to next? I dunno. No one put a hand up yet, but we'll let you know when it happens.
Monday, February 20, 2017:
Bit of a break, sitting in Troy, Alabama all day answering tech questions, posting a new web page for the Weber downdraft carburetor modification to enable anti-run-on function (and fuel vapor recovery). A bit of future travel planning (and when to fix a whining differential), and looking for a new heater motor. Not finished here yet, but figure to run back to Columbus, GA tonight.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017:
Sure enough, sitting in Columbus, GA today. Spent time posting information and a Faulty Parts web page about the failed lighting switch, and sent a note to Moss with the notice and recommendations. Ordered a new heater blower motor and some parts for an upcoming differential repair.
Late in the day we had a visit with Bill Schultz-Rathbun in Columbus, GA. We had in mind to fix the non-functional turn signals on his 1971 MGB GT, but the car is outside and it was raining, so we had a nice chat and left the MG problem for later (maybe next day).
Wednesday, February 22, 2017:
Spent some time writing a response to a question about insulation quality of empty air space (not much). This may turn into a new tech page sometime (maybe). Got a note from Rex and Linda Byerly in Bismarck, North Dakota, with pictures of their MGA after completion of restoration. This one was last seen in August 2015. Nice to see it finished now.
Ordered new trailer tires again. We have been getting around 30,000 miles out of the little donuts, but several thousand less this time. This was the first set that came already mounted on new wheels (as opposed to dealer installed on our original wheels). Seems they have been leaking somewhere, sometimes running a bit low on pressure before we catch it a fix it, which has been causing unusual tread wear. --- No call from Bill S-R today. Turns out he was busy at work, got home late, so no time to fix his turn signals today. Bummer. Late night heading north, going where?
Thursday, February 23, 2017:
Navigator wouldn't stop, so we drove a few hours right past Atlanta into the small hours of the morning. Had to check to see where we were today, sitting in Calhoun, GA, just 50 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee. What are we doing way up here? At least the weather is nice, no rain and not as chilly as we expected.
Posted a new tech page for installation of exhaust system in MGA Twin Cam. A bit of a knuckle buster when aftermarket pipes do not line up properly. -- Bit of planning, and heading a little farther north tonight.
Friday, February 24, 2017:
Friday appointment put off until Sunday, so today we went shop hopping. First stop was Coker Tire in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There are two locations, the warehouse to be seen later. First up was the business office, product display show room, museum, wire wheel shop wood spoke wheel shop, and a huge museum of vintage cars and motorcycles. Fun way to kill an hour on the tour, like we just stepped out of The WayBack Machine.
I won't remember everything, but Coket Tire and Wheel is into restoration and rebulding (and new building) of all sorts of wheels for vintage cars (including wood and wire wheels). They are of course famous for remenufacture of vintage style tires (contracted out for molding). Oddly, they also build some special bicycles for sale. For their own museum they are regularly collecting and restoring vintage cars and motorcyscles (and a few aeroplanes), and have a collection of vintage engines. Some years back they bought the rights to operate The Great Race (upon which Coker could no longer compete in that event). They also bought up Honest Charlies Speed Shop (where I used to buy parts back in the 70's), and they continue to operate that business. Early in the tour we got indoctrinated inthe arts of building wood and steel wheels (and wire wheels of course).
There are some British car here. You may see more of them later. There is a preponderance of drip pans throughout the museum, not just for British cars but for everything in the house.
See lots and LOTS more photos and notes from the Coker shop tour on a following page.
Tour over, we had to drive across town to find the tire warehouse which is why we were here to begin with. This is where all your vintage tires come from. Coker doesn't actually make tires, but they have procured the molds and commission some smaller tire manufactures to make new vintage tires. If you like vigorous driving they have radial tires in vintage sizes. If you want concours originality, they also have original type bias ply tires.
Then we were off to visit Minor Classics Restorations in Cleveland, TN. One man shop but very busy, and not limited to Morris cars. First we got to see some of his personal cars, the Morris Miner, late American spec MG TC (with bumpers and turn signals), and the Morris 12 (with those nifty trafficators) which is his wife's car.
Up the hill in the local workshop we find some customer cars, a TR3, a big Healey, and a MGB-GT. About time to deliver some of these, as space is at a premium with more customers waiting. There is another shop in the neighborhood, new acquisition and bit larger, heading for some expansion of the business.
On recommendation from Minor Classics, we stopped for a visit to Atlantic Coast Plating in Athens, TN.
Chrome is their specialty here, and from what I see they do a superb job of it.
A few representative parts about to be packaged and out the door today.
Saturday, February 25, 2017:
Catch-up day, but not caught up yet. Started with two new tech pages on timing chain tensioner failures. Then processing tons of photos from yesterday's adventures. Took a short jaunt north tonight to land momentarily in Knoxville, TN.
Sunday, February 26, 2017:
Start with email and check BBS, then post a new tech page on damping shift lever vibration. Finish prior photos and notes. Then we took a cruise in the countryside to rural Greenback, Tennessee to visit Larry Benson. Been here before, and the dogs remember us and are plenty friendly. We are here because Larry has a spare MGA rear axle that may have parts we could use. It has a standard 4.3:1 differential, no hubs or wheel bearings or brake parts, but we don't need any of those parts. Only ten nuts to remove the pumpkin. When I was wiping oil and dirt off of the ring gear it was at first looking promising.
But there were signs of water and rust in here, and closer up there was significant pitting on the ring gear teeth that render it pretty much useless. More pitting on the input pinion gear as well. I think the 10-spline halfshafts look okay, and the mating sun gears are likely useful (since the splines on mine are worn). Looks like I won't be fixing our noisy pumpkin just yet. Now to decide if this differential should be disassembled for the bevel gears, or maybe leave it all together as an emergency service assembly until we get our act together to fix the one in the car.
Monday, February 27, 2017:
We are constantly dealing with poor quality of current replacement parts, and for some odd reason it has been bugging me more in recent times. Like rebound straps that stretch, failure of the plastic cooling fans that punched out the radiator twice, and the lighting switch that shorted to ground and nearly fried the wiring harness. So I had the idea that perhaps the MGA guru should attend the upcoming annual conference of British Motor Trade Association (later this week). By chance we were just a tank of gas away from the meeting place, so I made a couple of phone calls and signed up.
Late start, but got a look at the propshaft on Larry's MGA today. He said there was a "clunk" when backing up, but the splined wheel hubs were good. The differential seemed to be in good condition, snug input shaft and not much backlash. The propshaft rear U-joint had a little bit of play in the spider so it would be a good idea to change that.
That small amount of play was just enough to make a "ping" sound in the propshaft tubing when rotated back and forth by hand, but didn't seem like it should clunk. The forward sliding spline joint was generally snug, and the front U-joint was okay, but there was a bit of play up there somewhere. And then I found the clunk. Four bolts holding the propshaft front flange to the gearbox flange were loose enough to turn the flange joint by hand and make the bolts wiggle.
While Larry ran off to the store to buy a U-joint and some new bolts, I got the propshaft out of the car and began removing snap rings to extract the rear U-joint. A bit of grunt work later the new U-joint was installed. While greasing the assembly before return to the car we noticed the U-joints were out of phase by about one spline. Not a big problem to fix, just unscrew the seal cap and pull the front yoke off the splined shaft. Finding sticky dried grease here it was a good opportunity to clean and re-lube the splines before reassembly. Shortly later it was back in phase and in the car, and all is well with the world (clunk banished).
Late night getting my monthly report off to CMGC for the newsletter. Never enough time.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017:
Today we took a shot at removing the last bolt in the starter motor on Larry's Rolls Royce. We failed to find it. The top bolt for the starter motor goes in from the back and threads into the starter motor flange. Pretty high up on the right side, kind of above most of the bellhousing and a bit farther forward. For a big car it sure has some tight spaces and a lot of obstructed visibility. Could have been easier on a hoist, and lying on cold cement in tight quarters didn't help. If we knew exactly where the bolt was we could maybe do it. Friends on the phone were trying to coax us along, but after a few hours of shear frustration, we called it a day. I think we need help from someone who has done it before.
Moss parts for differential work arrived Thursday. Trailer tires arrived Friday. V.B heater motor arrived Monday, so all deliveries are complete. Tomorrow we head east.