The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (October 1 - October 15, 2014)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014:
A very busy day, but no travel or visits. I spent the entire day posting the CMGC newsletter on the club web site. It happens regularly, right around turn of the month.

Thursday, October 2, 2014:
On a suggestion from a casual visitor, we took a shot at finding a "Todd Kowalski" in a British car shop not very far away. From north end of Toledo, OH, travel 9 miles west and 2 miles north, to intersection of Memorial Highway and Yankee Road near Ottawa Lake, MI. The shop is supposed to be on Yankee Road, across the street from the DANA Test Track. Too bad, we struck out this time. But we did drive into Ottawa Lake, MI, and along Memorial Highway we found a place called "Nice Car Company". Nice cars, about 120 all modern stuff inside of large buildings, so nothing to write home about. But they did have a nice mural painted on one wall inside, which may have something to do with origin of the company in the late 1970's.

Friday, October 3, 2014:
On another casual tip we took another look six miles north of Ottawa Lake, MI, looking for a different restoration shop, "AIA Restoration & Maintenance", but struck out again. Still looking for a headlight dipper switch, we ventured into a vintage British car shop and parts dealer "Import Automotive" on the east side of Toledo, OH. Nice business with lots of cars on display. They had only one dipper switch, and it was broken in several pieces, so still no luck.

Next stop was for an appointment with Jeff and Morgan Battisti and her 1961 MGA on the north edge of Columbus, OH. What we have here is a family of car enthusiasts, not all MG fanatics, but we may make some more converts yet. We had jolly good fun nit picking at the MGA in the dark garage, to find some irregularities and some possible improvements, but in fact it is a daily drive car as it sits. We will take another look at the car by daylight.

Then we all got a little treat with a visit to the secret wine cellar hidden behind a stealthy book case in the basement. Some of us know how to live a little, beyond the addiction of MGs.

Saturday, October 4, 2014:
Worked on Morgan's MGA half the day. Found carburetor heat shield missing, choke cable out of adjustment both carburetors very rich, fuel dripping from bottom of jets, and an extra return spring making the choke cable very hard to pull full stroke. After removing the errant spring and doing carburetor adjustments it runs much better. Driver needing instructions on use of manual choke, so she gets to cold start my MGA which has sat overnight and is now at 50dF ambient temperature.

6:00 pm meeting with Central Ohio MG Owners in Westerville, OH. Starting with 75 minute meet and greet with pot luck dinner and pre-rally drivers meeting. Then given about two hours to do all of 9 miles in their annual Lucas Night Rally. BTDT, as CMGC used to do these regularly. When driving slowly at night in city traffic, the primary objective is to come back alive.
The second route instruction has an error, but most people do not notice and accidentally continue on the intended route. One gimmick early in the rally is a parking lot trick to drive in reverse around a square of four traffic cones in least time. I do it in 12 seconds with my MGA, but I lose. Three gals in sport-ute did it in 11 seconds. Go figure. Then we run out of fuel because we forgot to gas up before the rally, pull choke to keep it running long enough to get into a gas station. A short while later another error in the route instructions (a printing omission) runs the whole tribe off course so the rallymaster has to run us all down to direct us back onto the correct route (and we skip several questions in the process). Late in the rally I get pulled over by a cop while doing 5-mph next to the curb in a traffic lane on a 45-mph multi-lane city street. Fortunately I had 4-way flashers going, and the cop was in a good mood, so after explanation we got a smile and "Have a nice day". That was enough, and we left the last question blank and returned to finish.

The post-rally meeting looks a lot like the pre-rally meeting, except now we're all eating desert while trying to kill the rallymaster. But the people are friendly, and it was still jolly good fun in spite of the problems. One MGA in the parking lot needs a push start due to low battery (after running two hours at low speed with lights on), so that may be our next appointment for tomorrow.

Sunday, October 5, 2014:
Taking care of some web work in the morning, I though this might end up being a dead day, and we might head south. Just about to shut down WiFi when I received a message from Ralph Vrana in Strongsville, Ohio (NE corner of Ohio near Cleveland). Less than 2 hours by expressway, or 2-1/2 hours by state and local Roads, so naturally we take the slower scenic route. North of Columbus the roads are mostly flat, but they gain hills and character as we get farther north east, passing a few oil pumpers before dark.

We arrive a little early, just time enough for a quick dinner and pick up some ice, then head over to Ralph's place around 9:00 pm. We find that Ralph has a penchant for stacking things, like little British cars for instance. There is an MGA project car body in process above the black MGB. There is most of an MGA Twin Cam above the TR Stag. There is the AH 3000 above the MGB V8 car. Too many toys, of course.

Yes, those are multiple MGB overdrive transmissions. The MGA body in process gets a quick once over for condition, progress and advice.

Groveling around more stacked things in his basement we find excess crankshafts, a box of MGA brackets, hinges and latches, and then one item that makes the trip back north all worth the time and miles. One original MGA dipper switch. SCORE! Finally. That puppy will get buffed out and go into my car first thing tomorrow.

Then we get a short tour or his club room, not nearly enough pictures. This guy collects stuff, and what may not be useful is entertaining.

Chit-chat runs late, and it is closing on midnight before most of us turn in, and I get time to post these notes.

Monday, October 6, 2014:
First things first. Buff up the good used dipper switch, remove the broken one and install the good one. Score one for the good guys, it works well.

For the evening we had an open invitation (via mass email) to local club members, and a couple of them showed up. Jeff Fields and Bearnie Posey dropped in for the social with a hint of beer but no warning of greasy hands. But that was okay, as Barney was the only one getting hands dirty.

First tech session of the day, for steel parts with surface rust, try a little rub down with Skyco Ospho. This is dilute Phosphoric Acid, and it works well to remove light rust. Heavier rust may require some soaking time before a brush down.

Next question is what's this lump doing here? Ralph already has an MGB V8 conversion, so this one is just waiting for the next project.

Then we get into some dirty hands as Barney's replacement differential needs a little work. First business is to adjust shims for the input pinion shaft bearings. Mark and remove the main carrier bearing caps to remove the differential and ring gear carrier from the housing. Remove the large front nut (impact wrench helps) to allow removal of the pinion shaft. A used assembly will have somewhat loose running bearings, so it is common to need to reduce the shim stack to restore the proper specified preload for the pinion bearings. Without factory type set-up tools, repeated test fitting with various shims is the prescribed method. Too loose remove a shim, To tight, then increase shim stack. Desired end result is 1-lb-ft (12-lb-in) torque to rotate the pinion shaft with no shaft seal in place. When preload is correct, then remove the flange once more to install the seal, and reassemble.

Then the differential carrier is reinstalled with the bearing cap nuts full tight. We haul out a dial indicator long enough to measure backlash of the ring gear. Specification is 0005-0.011 inch. We measure 0.014 inch (with dry gears). That's close enough for now, considering it has all used bearings (still in good condition). Reducing gear backlash would require pulling the main bearings off of the carrier to adjust side shims. That requires a special bearing puller or bearing separator, and some more shims that I do not have in hand. If I do it, that will wait for another day when the carrier comes out again to change 25-spline sun gears to 10-spline gears (which will come out of the differential currently in the car when it is to be exchanged). But enough for one day, as it is time to wrap up the assembly and put it back to sleep in the trailer (and get the rest of us to sleep as well).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014:
Catch up with WiFi by late morning, and hit the road heading south. We have two days to get to Cincinnati, so no rush here. We have our sites set on a "possible" appointment this evening near Columbus (yes, where we were two days ago). We have been posting email messages for a few days trying to contact Vicki Campbell in Gahanna, OH (with no phone or street address info). Finally I try Googling the name and town, and after a few tries I get lucky with a street address and phone number, just not sure if it is the right "Victoria" in Gahanna. Phone call gets an answering machine, so I leave a message, and we drive south regardless.

Along the way in Utica, OH, on US-62 we find these noble institutions. Woo-Hoo! Finally, the first time in five months of travel we find gasoline priced under $3/gallon, so we stop for a fill up. Now THAT's something to write home about.

Not having any feedback for out targeted appointment, we stop for a quick bite and email check, and to drag our feet for a little while. After an hour or so we start plotting a more scenic route to take a little longer getting to Gahanna. Just finished with the new route and prepping to hit the road, the phone rings, and Vicki (the correct one) is on the line. She is in Virginia, but hubby is home, and he will be expecting us when we arrive. So scrap the scenic route, back to the main road, and haul a**.

Arriving in Gahanna after dark, we are greeted by Jeff Campbell and promptly introduced to his MGA 1600. We are a bit confused about whose car it is. Vicky doesn't drive it, but she loves to ride in it, and apparently she was the instigator for the purchase. It is a very original low mileage car, repainted once in original black with red interior. We will have to get a better look at this one in the light of day, but later when Vicki is present to tell the right tales. Tonight we get a few pictures and go on our way, plotting to invade Cincinnati tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014:
Caught up with obligations by early afternoon with an evening appointment in Cincinnati area less than two hours away. So we turn into tourists and go "dot hopping" on the map, taking a longer more rural route to pass through lots of little towns along the way. This becomes an exercise in how to turn a 1-3/4 hour expressway trip into 3-3/4 hours non-stop on the side roads: Gahanna, Ashville, Circleville, Kingston, Chillicothe, Frankfort, Roxabell, Harper, South Salem, Humbolt, Rainsboro, New Petersburg, Samantha, Lynchburg, St Martin, Edenton, Goshen, Woodvillle, Miamiville, Blue Ash, and finally Reading, Ohio. Twenty small towns in 160 miles, 96 route instructions without an error. We got there just in time to check email before dashing into Foley's Irish Pub for a dinner meeting with British Car Club of Greater Cincinnati at 6:00 pm. A jolly fun bunch with a few MGA owners in the room.

Thursday, October 9, 2014:
Today we have an early afternoon appointment with Ron Ramer on the west end of Cincinnati. He has a 1965 MGB (with later engine) already restored as a daily driver, and a 1959 MGA 1600 beginning a full restoration. First note on the MGA is that it still has one of the original Dunlop Gold Seal tires 5.60-15 tubeless, and one studded snow tire (just show how long it has been off the road.)

Top surface of the main body shell has long since been stripped to bare metal and is loaded with surface rust. Rocker panels and inner body sills are paper thin with finger size rust holes and will need to be completely replaced.

Try as we may, we have not been able to reveal the chassis number on the badly rusted frame. But we did turn up a bag of Moss Motors fender piping that is too thin and too narrow to use without problems. Kind of wish this stuff would go away from the market place.

Then we went after the MGB to find out why the overdrive was not working. The relay would click with 12 volts applied with a jumper wire. The switch had 12 volts supply and 12-volts output. The switched wire had 12-volts input and 8 volts output. When connected to the relay coil, the switched wire went to 0 volts. Conclusion was, bad connector in the wire between switch and relay. Sure enough, a bullet connector near the starter solenoid was the culprit. Once that was corrected everything clicks.

There is on interesting feature on this MGB (photo at right). It has a high speed gear reduction starter motor, and by coincidence a Mallory Dual Points distributor just above the starter. Shortly after installation, the lower clip of the distributor cap fell down against the battery cable connection post on the starter motor, resulting in instant melt down of the clip. Fortunately no other damage, but some inconvenience finding a replacement clip and a suitable rubber boot for the battery cable connection post. This could happen as well with a Lucas distributor, so beware of this problem with the gear reduction starters.

Back to the MGA, the fuel tank will need to be replaced, so we're not too concerned about evicting the mice. On the flip side, the original Motorola "transistor powered" radio looks decent, perhaps worth an attempt at revival.

Two Lucas batteries, very vintage, and very dead. The fuel pump looks familiar, but I can't quite place it.

And for a bit of a treat, Ron has this nifty all aluminum trailer for his MG service. The Aluma 8114 model number designates the flat bed is 81-inches wide and 14-feet long. Considering location of the single axle, you likely want to load the 13-foot MGA or MGB with a foot of rear overhang and two feet of empty space at the front end. For more information see article TH-405 in the Trailer Tech section.

Friday, October 10, 2014:
Internet catch up day, and a little travel. Decided to make Georgetown, Kentucky, home for the night. Traveling down I-75 South in light misting rain, the wipers stopped in mid stroke. Gas station stop and investigation reveals the wiper motor still works when hot wired, so we have failure of the electronic intermittent wiper control module (wires still properly connected, and fuse not blown). Running since 2002, 175K (since first restoration), now 2014, 271K, makes failure at 12 years, 96,000 miles. I always said electronics are not forever. If it doesn't work in the morning it gets disconnected (particularly since the guy who built it is now deceased).

Saturday, October 11, 2014:
Well, the wiper control module didn't wake up today, so it is now history, no mercy and no regrets, as it just became more trouble than worth. It didn't take long to re-route two original wires to original connections and clip the rest of module wires (and wipers work again as original). The rotary control switch still fills the extra drilled hole in the dash. I think I will eventually install a momentary push button to give one wiper stroke with a touch.

Then we have an appointment with Scott Steinhauer in Danville, Kentucky. He has an MGA 1500 with a few tricks up its sleeve. The pictures may tell the story.

And we end with a couple more toys in the play pen, both running, and of course with good stories about how they came to live here. I have some respect for a guy who can stick to one project at a time until it is finished.

Sunday, October 12, 2014:

Cruising south today through Kentucky (75dF and sunny) into Tennessee via US-150 and US-25. Lots of chiseled rock formations followed by a drive up into the clouds, followed by light rain (after I thought we were done with this stuff). Final destination was nephew's place (cousin to navigator) in Sevierville, TN (close to Pigeon Falls) where we were greeted by Mopar, the 2015 Dodge Challenger retro-car. Not MG, but could be fun (if you like that sort of stuff). Family reunion and late night chat, so we will defer MG business until tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2014:
Federal holiday here (Columbus Day) does not affect MGA guru, but it makes a nice day off with family. Time for some internet work, catching up with notes and BBS, and contacting a few people with hands up for visits. Still, it feels a bit odd to sit still for a day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014: A little more (short term) future travel planning today, BBS, email with tech questions (as usual). I take advantage of a little "spare" time to finally install the new trailer tires. Old tires showing wear bars. Not a big deal, just a little grunt work for sweat equity. Toss the finished assemblies in the boot for a quick trip to a service station for air, and it's a done deal. Two new tires. New vs old.

New tread on the ground ready to roll again, just in time for a brief heavy rain.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014:
Today a quick shuffle 215 miles up the expressway (I-40 and I-81) to Christiansburg, Virginia, to visit Bob Stickley and his MGA 1600. This one appears to have an older body-off restoration with perfectly solid body sills (missing the lower body trim strips). The left door has suffered over-opening damage on the outer skin and has replacement hinges. Otherwise it is still in good daily driver condition. It was running a bit rich, so a quick carburetor tune-up was rendered before a test drive. Low oil pressure and knocking noise (under load only) indicates the need to renew connecting rod bearings (which Rob believes he can do for himself).

Rest of the evening was spent with casual chat and a wonderful home cooked turkey dinner (with pecan pie for desert). We have some plans for a bit of work on my car in the morning.

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