The MGA With An Attitude

At 08:10 AM 8/26/03 -0600, Kelly Corkill wrote:
>" mention in your tool kit a few parts .... but didn't list a couple of what are possibly the most obvious (fan belt, ....)"

That's because tools and spare parts are entirely different subjects.

For spare parts, the fan belt is an interresting and intentional omission, although I might carry one for a long trip (more than the distance between oil changes). When you keep up proper daily maintenance, you should never get caught on the road with a badly worn fan belt. If you had the foresight to toss one into the traveling parts kit, you should at least have the foresight to check the one under the bonnet and replace it if needed (and the same for any other part). It does not make sense to always carry every spare part for the whole car just because you might neglect regular maintenance. However, it is possible to encounter an unexpected lockup of the water pump or the generator that may break the fan belt or prevent its use.

In one instance I had installed a replacement generator, and the pulley that came with it was slightly bent. It was not so bad as to be terribly obvious, but was bad enough to chew on a fan belt to the point of being loose in a few hundred miles. I had retensioned the belt a couple of times on the road, but had another case of brain fade and forgot to replace either the pulley or the belt when I was home (shame on me). One day the belt broke, 100 miles from home and 40 miles from my destination, on a nifty side road in the middle of nowhere.

My solution was to drive the car carefully with tact and understanding (and glowing red generator light) for 40 miles without a fan belt. Not as tough as it sounds, and not necessarily detrimental to the engine, You just need to keep it from overheating. The trick is to run it up to 60 mph, shut off the engine and let it coast down to about 40 mph, pop the clutch in 3rd to restart, and repeat as necessary to get where you're going. Expect the temperature gauge to go to about 210-220dF fairly quickly running with no "forced" water circulation. But with forward motion for air flow through the radiator, and thermal convection curculation, the coolant temperture in the cylinder head can get back to about 190dF in the time it takes to coast down form 60 to 40. Keep one eye on the temperature gauge, and go a little easier if it looks like it's getting hotter than normal.

Of course this could be much more challenging if you're caught on a busy expressway during rush hour, or on an unending uphill grind in the mountains. But in the open country I was able to nurse it along in this manner (for nearly an hour) to the next town where I could buy a new fan belt. When I got home the very first thing was to change the generator pulley. 30,000 miles later I'm still driving with the same engine, no problem resulting from that "short" excursion with no fan belt.

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