The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (August 16 - August 31, 2017)
Wednesday August 16, 2017:
Off and running by late morning, but didn't get very far. Found a WiFi spot, making a hard drive data back-up (not done for three months) sucks up a few hours. Also time to clean up the Planning spread sheet, hot link the clubs and shops we have visited, and get back to looking at the clubs we skipped in British Columbia. I recon we will be heading back west through the mountains tonight. .... Well, no, we didn't.
Change of plans (quite common), ran 30 miles south to visit Rob Manderson in Foothills No. 31, AB (it is a Municipal District south of Calgary). Now this had to catch my eye first, 1899 Locomobile steam car. Okay, cute, but that's not why we're here. You can Google it.
Rob has a 1977 MGB with 1971 engine with HIF4 carburetors, reported to feel like it was running on one carb. Sure enough, no fire on first two cylinders. Compression checked out okay, so not a blown head gasket. Sooty plugs in 3&4, wet plugs in 1&2, blowing fuel vapor out of #2 spark plug port, puddle of fuel on top of #2 piston, are we having fun yet? Cranked it to blow out excess fuel, installed new spark plugs, still running on two, no fire up front, wet plugs again.
Closed front carb full shut no air flow, increased idle screw setting on rear carb, dried the plugs, reinstalled, started up, and still running on two cylinders. @%^*()-! Plug resistance=0. HT wire resistance ~6000 ohms all around. Good newish distributor cap and rotor, and swapping plugs didn't help. Dried the plugs again, cranked it to blow out excess fuel again, reinstalled plugs, and this time blocked up the front air float piston, and then it ran on four cylinders with just the rear carb. Progress? Dropped the front air piston and it immediately flooded. Duh? Lift front air piston and it runs okay on rear carb. Definitely something whacky about the front carb that it will flood the engine with fuel when the throttle valve is closed. Yank the carbs and get to the bench.
Both carbs were adjusted full rich, main jets much too low, which would account for sooting up the plugs but not for flooding on the front carb. Remove bottom cover from front carb for look inside. Float was way too high, possibly bumping top of float chamber so the fuel valve may not close. Adjusted float to proper height, reassembled carb, adjusted jet height of both carbs and reinstalled them in the car. Before all cables and links were connected it got late and dark, working by flashlight (which was okay except).... Time for dinner, so knock off for the night, and we will take this up on the morning.
Thursday August 17, 2017:
Back in the SU HIF carburetor problem. All hooked up, run again, same problem, severe flooding on the front carburetor. So we took it apart again, Re-checked float level, removed the main jet to be sure it didn't have any cracks or leaks, put it back together. All else big okay, we turned attention to the choke mechanism. There are a couple of screws in the back plate that are a bear for access. Getting it back together was even tougher, but we finally prevailed. With four hands busy we didn't get the pictures. There is a brass spool in there with a rubber O-ring seal. I didn't have the replacement part, but it looked decent, so we reinstalled it. Back together on the car, same story, flooding on the front carb. Bummer. Almost ready to buy a new carburetor, but never give up. Grovel around the net for a bit and find a note saying the O-ring on the choke may be leaking, which will dump fuel into the carb under vacuum. That sounds like a good bet, but will have to set this aside until a new O-ring may be procured.
[Footnote: A few days later, August 19, we got a phone call from Rob, saying he had replaced the O-ring in the choke, and it stopped spitting fuel and was running an all four cylinders. Score one for the good guys. Now I need to order rebuild parts for HIF carbs to carry in my trailer.]
We took a short stroll past some more toys, mostly vintage Rolls Royce and Bentley.
This led to a study on how to put 11 cars in a 5 car garage.
Install five lifts for double stacking, and stuff the little Saab back in the far corner. Don's first car was a Saab. There was also a Morris Minor convertible and a Model A Ford.
Heading west in the evening, landed somewhere in the Canadian Rockies before midnight.
Friday August 18, 2017:
Arrived Kelowna, BC by mid day. Had an early afternoon visit to Drakes' British Motors in Kelowna, BC. Say hello to Scott Drake (father Len Drake not in picture). Having done repairs and restoration work in the past, they are now primarily into parts, new and used. I picked up some new parts for my MGA (and for inventory), including front parking lamps (as my old ones are getting corroded).
More shop space up on the hill, parts, parts and more parts. They also sell cars in various condition, parts cars, project cars, and sometimes driver cars.
Up the road half a mile another stop to visit Mike’s British Repairs in Kelowna, BC. Definitely a working shop. The neon sign said "OPEN", but the locked door said no. A block back down the road we found their other Fraser Automotive shop, no one there. And no answer to a phone call, so maybe we will check back later.
One more stop today a few miles farther north to visit someone who had walked in on us at lunch, Mark Payer
also in Kelowna, BC. He has a very nice MGA 1500 restored as original, good running car in need of nothing. Also a very nice view of the city from the top of a mountain.
We had sent out email feelers on short notice to executives of Okanagan British Car Club in Kelowna. Some of these folks were out of town, headed south to visit the great America eclipse a few days later. But the message was forwarded to a few more club members, and we got a response from one of them. In late evening we shuffled five miles east to visit Stacy Metcalf in Kelowna, BC. He has a few hobby cars and is currently "hot-rodding" an MGA 1500 with a Chevy V6 engine.
Interesting how the modifications are done. This one may be the prototype for an upcoming kit to make it easy for others to follow. 3.4-liter fuel injected engine, and dual like power braking system from late model MGB. Gets me thinking that my MGA could use a little more torque for towing the trailer through the mountains.
Here's another news article about our travels. This one appeared in the Calgary Herald Driving section today:
Saturday August 19, 2017:
We started today with a breakfast meeting with Saturday Breakfast Group of MG and Triumph owners, about a dozen of them. A jolly good group of enthusiasts, mostly sticking to the subject of cars. Today's curiosity piece was a Triumph TR250 overdrive, T-top style, except the removable roof panel is all one piece (and could be either steel or aluminum). The rear roof section holding the rear window is semi-permanently attached, but if so inclined it could be removed to revert to a convertible model.
Then we were off to visit Bill Sinclair at British Restorations / British Car Conversions in Kelowna, BC. Two years prior Bill had acquired the company "Killer B's", and has been continuing the development of adapter kits for fitting Chevrolet V6 engines into MGB, and now into some Triumphs, and soon to be a kit for MGA (review yesterday's photos). Today the shop holds a Triumph Stag and a TR6, both getting the V6 engines.
Some interest to me was the 3-into-1 tubular exhaust header, same for left and right side, and same for TRs, MGBs and for the MGA (woo-hoo). This engine mount is for the TR6. The inner bracket will be same for MGB and MGA with the outer bracket being similar but suited to the individual model chassis.
Engine as received, and then as simplified on the front end for the transplant. Final picture is the TR6 transplant nearly finished. Being an MGA guy, I figure these applications are a bit misleading due to the wide bonnet opening for easy access. I'm still thinking about yesterday's encounter with the V6 MGA, which seems to have surprisingly easy service access even with the narrower bonnet opening.
Headed west out of Kelowna late night. Ended up driving a bit farther than planned, more than 100 miles into the mountains (because we didn't stop at Merrit).
Sunday August 20, 2017:
Cruised into Chilliwack today (even though we should have stopped in Merrit). Aside from normal email and BBS stuff, we spent a good part of the day exploring British Columbia club web sites to find what goes on here. It was looking like weekend events with nothing happening an week days. Sent some email enquires.
Monday August 21, 2017:
Much of the day spent on some new tech pages. Hooter mounting, two-speed wipers, oil cooler pipe routing, and a double stacker car hauler trailer. More email about club events in B.C.
Tuesday August 22, 2017:
Couple of tech articles on cellulose lacquer paint, and another Twin Cam demonstration day news report. Found a previously unknown British car club in Wenatchee, Washington, USA, the British Car Club of Wenatchee. They host a British Car Show and Shine in mid September, and have a few random driving events, but no web site, just email news between members.
Wednesday August 23, 2017:
Diligently searching a dozen local club web sites in BC. Seems odd that there are no mid-week club meetings anywhere in the later half of the month, just week end events. Taking advantage of the dead time to be looking a bit farther ahead. -- Took a bit of time to spiffy up the Canadian clubs list to be a tad easier to read.
Thursday August 24, 2017:
Been putting off this visit for a while in order to do two in one trip to the downtown Vancouver area. Early morning visit to Octagon Motor Group in Vancouver. Looks may be deceiving. In years past the business used to occupy the whole building. In recent years it is in only the left half of the building, while the right half is another business. The Berkeley belongs to one of the staff. The motorcycles are a hobby, not part of the business.
Current staff is the owner, a business manager, and two technicians in the shop. They provide full service for vintage British cars including full restorations, about two per year. The business has been here for decades, but current owners only five years (to date). They do not provide retail parts.
Less than ten miles away we stopped to visit Colin Fitzgerald in Burnaby, BC. This is not a coincidence, as Colin was the founder of Octagon Motor Group (above) in the early 80's. At one time that shop used to occupy the double wide building, had as many as 14 employees, and the larger part of the business was retail parts sales, dedicated exclusively to servicing MG cars. About five years ago the business (including the building and huge inventory of parts) was sold to a group of four guys, later to be reduced to a single owner. The parts inventory was soon liquidated, the building was sold and the space now rented back from the new building owner, the right half of the building was vacated and rented to some other business.
Now we get to see some of Colin's toys. The Alamo Beige MGA 1600 out front is his wife's car. Inside is MG TA with chassis number 251 (the first TA built). Then we headed for the workshop out back.
Then there was a nice MG TC, and a MG VA Tickford (not many of those to be found anywhere). Hiding behind the Tickford was an MG TD undergoing restoration for say 20 years or so (often superseded by other projects).
The one below is still in process. I love it, but I forgot what it was. It has a great story, of course, too long for now. There were a few more toys around, but we were soon off to lunch and more chat. Colin started the Vancouver Pre'56 MG Unclub 25 years ago, and he is still heavily involved in it, regularly publishing a printed newsletter for them. They get together almost weekly for a breakfast meeting and a cruise.
Friday August 25, 2017:
Much of the day was "sucked up" by a computer problem when a few keys on my laptop just stopped working. Somewhat nerve wracking to pull off and reinstall a few key caps without breaking anything, while cleaning a three year accumulation of trash out from underneath. It didn't help much that I could tell. Fearing the prospect of possibly having to transition to a new computer, the machine was rebooted a few times, I did something else for a while, rebooted it again, and for some odd reason it seemed to be (almost) back to normal again. Rather bad way to kill a day, but at least it wasn't interfering with anything important. I hate computers.
Saturday August 26, 2017:
10:00 am meeting with Fraser Valley British Motor Club in Chilliwack, BC. Something like 17 or 18 cars assembled for a run. The fellow at right we have been tracking for a while. He is Doug Linley from Chilliwack, brother of Brian Linley in Calgary, AB. At least a few people knew we were coming, and there was time for a bit of chat before the drivers meeting.
Apparently the assembly was waiting for me to do a couple of minutes on what our mission was about before the hit the road. There was a report of a MG Midget dead on the road a quarter mile short of the starting point, so we left a few minutes early to see if we could help. The car was gone before we got there, and report from the locals was that the car was going slow and back-firing, might find it dead again a short way down the road. No such luck as he seemed to have gone along well out of sight (likely heading home). Then the convoy caught up with us so we joined the gang and headed into the hills. We had a 10 minute delay while waiting for downhill skate-boarders to clear the hill.
Then up the mountains we went, and boy do we mean mountains. The route map was a series of switchbacks, a lot of it in 2nd gear. The Y-type did okay, except for chuffing a lot of smoke out the tail pipe. For a while we were stuck behind a Z-Magnette at 15 mph as the hills got steeper, and had to hit 1st gear a couple of times to keep the fan speed up for cooling. Then we did a U-turn and made our way back down the hills, mostly in 2nd gear, zero throttle, with a touch of brakes occasionally. One Jaguar S-type apparently cooked his brakes and had to stop a while for a cool down, and they were freshly rebuilt brakes to boot. Bummer.
After 40 miles or so we stopped for lunch at Tractorgrease Café in Chilliwack, BC. Don't let the name fool you, as it is a nice place to dine, and we had more time to chat with the club folks. We would have liked to check on the failed Midget, but no one seemed to have an address or phone number of the owner, so no luck there. By mid afternoon we were headed back to town to find a WiFI spot and get back to work.
Sunday August 27, 2017:
A short side trip west today to crash a picnic with Langley Area Mostly British Motoring Club in Langley, BC. Difficult to contact, I found one "info" email link on the club web site, to which I finally got a response from the club president. Since plans were very late, bring your own food, as the caterer is only prepped for pre-registered attendees. Can do. We arrived 12:30 pm as planned, confronted with a continuing stream of arriving (mostly) British cars, at least two dozen of them. The Austin van was nice, as well as a trio of Jensens, one Jensen Healey and two Jensen GT.
I had a chance for a short chat with one or two people before they all moved to the park with lawn chairs. Everyone chatting with their friends, a bit busy among themselves, about 60 people if I counted right. When the catering truck showed up to crowd was shuffling for food. We had a bit of a jump on them, having already eaten our box lunch. About that time we decided it was late enough and chose to haul out.
After a stint on WiFi we headed east again, three plus hours through the mountains before stopping at 2-am.
Monday August 28, 2017:
Slept in a bit before proceeding east into Westbank, BC, where a good part of the day went to WiFI work. Early evening fuel stop, and two stops to find a NAPA store open after 5-pm to pick up a few needed bits. Then we were off to Kelowna Golf & Country Club for dinner and business meeting with Okanagan British Car Club. This looked like it was going to be fun, with at least 16 cars aligned, mostly British. Inside we had 26 friendly faces, a very good dinner, and an extended business meeting. As we were waiting for food to be served, the MGA guru had several minutes for a little song and dance, followed by several more minutes for some Q&A.
After dinner and the club meeting some of the folks reassembled to kick a few tires in the car park. The red car would be a Marcose with fiberglass body, V8 engine, right hand drive and new enough that the owner was reading the Owners Manual to find the headlight switch. Also one MGB GT with a Ford V8, and one really sweet MGA Coupe.
Less than an hour later had moved south to meet Michael Weis in Summerland, BC. Tonight just welcome and a little late night chat, but we will take this up tomorrow. And a bit of time to post these photos and notes.
Tuesday August 29, 2017:
By the light of day there's a nice little workshop here. And that is Micheal's MGA 1500. Story is, it was repainted and re-trimmed 40 years ago, and then the engine went bad, and it was parked until 2009 when Michael bought it. I can tell you that 40 year old paint rubbed out real nice, and I would be proud to drive it. Michael did a lot of work to rebuild the engine and spiffy it up some, so now it can be a daily driver.
Daily driver or not, it was running rather rough, so we gave it a quick carburetor adjustment for very nice improvement. We got the fuel mixture and flow balance right, but the rear carb will not shut down to slow idle, so I recon the throttle plate needs to be realigned. Working on the learning curve with no prior experience, he took lots of pictures during the engine rework, and put it back together as it was. I'm impressed with the correctness of originality, all the right bits in all the right places. The books on the shelf look familiar.
We were going to repair the turn signal switch, but upon opening it up we found no piston or spring inside, and missing bleed screw in back, and stripped threads on the front mounting neck, so time to look for a good used replacement part. There was a small forest fire going a mile way today, put pown nicely, but the smoke was thick and blocked the sun enough for a direct picture of the sun. Looking like twilight at 4-pm was a little weird.
After a late lunch (at dinner time) I finally took time for a lube job on the MGA (far over due), and a valve adjustment (no problem there). Then I got back to WiFi work, spent some time with tech questions, then more than a few hours taking a NAMGAR parts board quiz (sucker for a challenge), and hours more writing up our monthly report for the Chicago club newsletter. At 7-am I was setting the wake-up alarm for noonish. Bugger, short of sleep again.
Wednesday August 30, 2017:
After mid day breakfast, we got back to work on Michael's MGA, wanting to fix a non-functional fuel gauge. Jack up and remove RR wheel for access to the fuel sender unit. It had more than half a tank of fuel, so jack it high. Right away we spotted some of the problem, as the fuel sender unit was installed upside down, so that had to come out. Hint: Remove the bottom screw first to assure there is no fuel that will spill when it is opened. Grounding the signal wire moves the gauge to "E", and disconnecting the wire pegs the gauge past the "F" mark, so at least the gauge had the required rudimentary function.
This looked like a pretty good quality sender unit. Michael said it was in the car when he bought it, figuring it may be original factory issue. Resistance measures (roughly) 0 to 80 ohms.
We hooked up a few jumper wires so we could operate the sender unit by hand for testing. The gauge would not go higher than 3/8 scale, even with the sender connected directly to the gauge, so it was time to pull the gauge
out for re-calibration. I asked Michael if he had a spare battery, because we need 12 volts. Now how many people do you know with a variable power supply in their garage? This was going to be a snap. I didn't even have to pull out my Radio Shack resistors, as we could use the sender unit for the testing resistance. After a bit of fiddling with position of the magnets in the back of the gauge, we had it reading properly for "E" and "F" and roughly "1/2" in between.
Doc Michael got busy stitching the gauge back into the dash, and the sending unit was reinstalled with a touch of Hylomar on the rubber gasket and screw threads, wire reconnected, wheel back on, and car back on the floor and level. From the amount of fuel in the tank, I reckoned the gauge should read more than half tank, close to 2/3 full. Switched on the key, and BINGO, spot on. Score one for the good guys.
We had time enough to take Michael's MGA for a spin around town to try out yesterday's tune-up work. With a bit of encouragement I got him to stick his foot in it and rev it up to 5 grand a couple of times as his grin kept getting bigger. We grabbed a banana split at the Dairy Queen and a sack lunch to take back, and all was right with the world. Yesterday's forest fire was gone, leaving a bit of ash on my car. Now past midnight posting the photos and notes, and I have a bit of planning to do for tomorrow, but at least I should get some sleep this time.
Thursday August 31, 2017:
A mid day visit to Mike’s British Repairs in Kelowna, BC. We missed this one when it was closed on Aug 18, but better luck this time. Meet the owner Mike Fraser, the tall bloke with the friendly grin. This place can do maintenance, repairs, and full restoration work.
Rest of the day off (sort of), making a few calls and planning. Just as our WiFi spot was about to close we got a call back from Terry Muir in Vernon, BC, and we may have an appointment there in a few days. Terry coughed up a phone number for Niel Findly in Kelowna, another friend we had met at the Monday club meeting (driving the yellow MGA Coupe above). One more call, and we were on our way a half hour north for a late night meeting with Niel. More about this tomorrow, I'm sure.