The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (December 16 - December 31, 2014)
Tuesday, December 16, 2014:
This morning we get to check out Roger Hobart's TR4A (in Mims, Florida) by daylight. Since body work and paint is finished, it is encouraging to progress along toward the finish.
Then we wander over to Don Loftis' place again to check out the rest of his toys by daylight. The first "in your face" vehicle appears to be a Ford Model A tractor (looking for a new home). The frame is simple channel iron, and the rear axle appears to be early model truck parts. There are also some Ford flat head V8 engines looking for new homes. Offers?
Then we have this interesting pair of vehicles.
You may need to stare at the pictures for a while to realize what chassis is underneath the outer shell. Don has a company named Custom Coachwork Inc, and he has fabricated these special fiberglass bodies to fit on the MGB chassis. He calls them MGX. The red one has an Oldsmobile engine, and the blue one has a Corvette engine. Wanna play? More photos on a following page.
We have an Austin A-series cylinder head (MG Midget or AH Sprite) that has undergone extensive machining to lower the height of the rocker shaft assembly. No one knows why. There is another head that has been sliced and diced to reveal internal structure of the casting, apparently to aid in shaving, porting and polishing of heads for racing engines. We have an MGB GT in restoration. Hiding under a mystery pile of parts is an MGA with a Chevy 350cid V8 engine, an MG Midget being prep'd for racing, a Datsun 510 in the paint booth, more MGAs, a TR4, and a Studebaker Avanti. An MG-BGT, a chopped and channeled 1950 Ford Coupe. and Don's pride and joy, his first race car, and the MG Midget still gets raced occasionally.
An MG J2 with a slightly uprated engine, another Midget racer, and a container load of spare engines. A 1950 Ford truck chopped and channeled, a slightly newer sport side truck, and a four door Chevrolet Corvair, just to round out the stable. Is this an eclectic collection, or what?
See more Don Loftis photos and notes on a following page.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014:
Laundry day today. Really. Also email and BBS, but otherwise an enjoyable day off. Managed to change address on my Illinois drivers license electronically, but failed to renew license tag on the MG. Will attempt phone call tomorrow, but I shiver at the thought of dealing with government on the phone.
Thursday, December 18, 2014:
Banking day, and a trip to Best Buy in Orlando to buy a new computer for navigator (somewhat overdue). And that phone call to the DMV? Piece of cake. Someone actually answered the phone within a minute of calling the help line, and everything was settled in a few minutes. I am now officially a resident of Lisle, Illinois (next town east of prior address Naperville), living with my daughter
(although I have never actually spent a night there). And the Antique Vehicle plate on the MGA is paid up for another five years. When the new sticker arrives at my new address, just need to have daughter forward it to wherever I might be a few days later. The price of gas keeps falling. Skipped it Monday when it was $2.499/gal. Bought it today at $2.459/gal. Saw it later in the day as low as $2.409/gal.
Evening found us joining with the Classic MG Club (in Orlando) for Tour Of The Lights. Good fun putzing around town at idle in 2nd gear for a while, checking out displays of holiday lights. I took lots of pictures but they were all blurred pretty bad with motion and time exposure, so one is all you get here. Dinner after at Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen was very good, and I think we have another appointment for tomorrow.
Friday, December 19, 2014:
Appointment today with Lonnie Cook in Orlando (guy in the red shirt). We came to chat about clubs and tech sessions, but quickly got distracted by the toys. Discussion soon turned to which intake manifold to use when converting the (misplaced) Weber down draft carburetor to dual SU's. Say hello also to Brian Collins, Johnny Walker, Kevin Dunlevy, Tom Lovette, and Harry (the dog).
I got a good look at the conical shape K&N air cleaners that can fit around the brake booster in the late model MGB. Having spent some time considering benefits of ram horns and stub stacks, deficiencies of air flow path in the conical air cleaners is painfully obvious. With the shrouded off-center port these are an expensive bit of trim with not much benefit, and no way to round off the sharp entry edge.
Then we rumbled on over to Southeast Performance in Winter Park to pick up Tom Lovette's MG TF (the green one). Nothing but grins and giggles here.
There are more than a few eclectic toys here. Click on their web site, and take your pick.
Saturday, December 20, 2014:
Had a little fun this morning. We met for breakfast with John Webber, an independent writer who intends
to do a short article about me (us) and this road trip for Classic Motorsports magazine. Apparently being crazy and different may (sometimes) translate into interesting and notable. After the breakfast interview we moved to an empty side street for photo shoot. Give it a few months to see what might pop up in print.
With some time to spare, we drove a bit out of our way to check out something that navigator spotted a week earlier as we were cruising up I-4 through Orlando. It is billed as "World's Largest Entertainment McDonald's & PlayPlace". Big, noisy, arcade up stairs, serving pizza and ice cream and lots of deserts. Didn't like the pizza, thin and sloppy. You might want to skip this place.
Price of gas continues to drop, about a penny a day average for the past few weeks. Today there are lots of sources under $2.40/gal. We filled up for $2.36.9/gal. As plans change without much notice, in the evening we decided to head for the east cost before going south. We sat on WiFi for 90 minutes at I-95 near Merrit Island, where we received another email and headed south at midnight.
We had a little mishap an hour later as we got off of I-95 South for a fuel stop. Caught by a red light waiting for a right turn, semi truck in front of us, large flat bed straight truck behind us. Seems like the light was never going to change (after about 5 minute wait). Truck behind got impatient and honked, but truck in front didn't move. Truck behind started to pull into next lane to left and clipped the LR corner of our trailer pretty hard, nearly pushed the MGA into the truck ahead. Then the light changed green. Duh. We followed the offending truck into the truck stop/gas station for a chat and some pictures.
This trucker hit something that wasn't very valuable and caused only minor damage to something that was previously damaged. Most of the cracks and screws in the pictures were there since 1997 when I had installed a bunch of steel splints to repair other damage. The fiberglass box is pretty sturdy, and a few more cracks don't make much difference. So I told the trucker it was his lucky day, and go away.
Sunday, December 21, 2014:
A little run farther down I-95 brings us to Miami for an appointment with Rafael Puga who has a 1959 MGA 1500. Sometimes it would start sometimes not, and occasionally it would die when driving and not restart. All very frustrating and keeping him from having confidence to drive the car. The problem was a faulty battery cut-off switch that would occasionally kill the ground connection. We joined two cables together on one terminal of the switch to bypass the switch until he might get a replacement part, and now it starts and runs reliably.
Then I noticed another problem, a mild rumbling noise when the engine was idling. This was caused by slightly loose rivets in the crankshaft pulley, which should call for a new pulley (unless you want to weld the old one together). This was followed by dinner and a late night chat, followed by WiFi work past midnight.
Monday, December 22, 2014:
Just a little more tinkering with Rafael's MGA this morning, nothing to write home about, but his car looks nice in daylight.
For those who missed it last night (probably everyone), that big sedan sharing the garage with the MGA is a Tesla Model S-85 ("the world's first premium electric sedan"). 0 to 60-mph in 3.2 seconds, up to 265 miles on a charge (if you take it easy cruising). No, I didn't drive it, but I sat in it. The dash center console sports a huge computer screen. It may be good if you don't exceed it's charge range in any 24 hour period. With upgraded home charging equipment you can charge enough to do 58 miles travel for each hour of charging time (easy overnight recharging). If you drive farther in a day, then it takes 30 minutes for partial charge to go another 170 miles (if you can find the super charging stations along the interstate highways). The travel range is close to my MGA motor home, but it doesn't beat my 5-minute fuel stop.
Given no more appointments, we have a tendency to turn into tourists (again). Tonight we are (were) sending email from Marathon, Florida, less than 50 miles from Key West. Also spent a little time trolling around Key West just shy of midnight. Been here a couple of times before, but it's a lot different with nearly empty streets.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014:
Really missing Christmas season in the Chicago area. This is all I get for consolation.
When the pedicab is the fastest vehicle on the street, you know the traffic is bad. Welcome to Key West.
There is some redeeming social value here. This Morris Minor 1000 pulled up along side to say hello.
Then it is another casual 150 mile cruise from Key West to Tamiami where we crash for the night.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014:
Today we cruise west on the Tamiami Trail (US-41N) to drop in on Capt Jack's Airboat Tours. The flat bottom air boats take several inches of water standing still, but with a bit of encouragement they get up to speed and skim along on the surface at a good clip. We prefer the smaller 6-passenger boats for a more intimate look in tight places. The Brown Headed Pelicans like to hitch a ride around the harbor at low speed, very friendly fellows.
We came for the Mangrove Tour, and to visit a special old acquaintance. I was here in 1984 (before navigator was born). Elliot and I were here in 2004, but he claims to not remember the affair. I think he will remember it this time, and the old acquaintance below.
The airboat is a fairly simple machine. Goose the throttle and steer it left or right. Just bear in mind that it doesn't corner like a sports car, but it can almost stand on its tail and fly sideways (or sometimes backward). It is a good idea to wear the ear muffs when the power unit runs at full chat. Automotive buffs may recognize the engine as Chevy small block V8 with 400 horsepower on demand, and tooth belt reduction drive to the propeller.
After the Mangrove Tour, another casual cruise to the south edge of Naples Florida, where we will spend the night. There aren't any personal services along US-41 between Miami and Naples, mostly just swamps and wildlife.
Thursday, December 25, 2014:
Merry Christmas. Day off for the guru (meaning I have to catch upon web work).
Friday, December 26, 2014:
As will happen if you leave us alone for a day, we turn into tourists (again). This time we stop to visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida. I was here before, but navigator wasn't. The prior visit In the 80's) presented lots of information about Edison's laboratory as a guided tour but this time just an open door and a pamphlet. We paid the premium for the guided tour again this time, but the guided part was mostly about the Edison and Ford homes, and a bit about the botanical gardens. For those with an historical interest, it is nice place to visit. Otherwise not much to do with British cars so I won't waste a lot of bandwidth here
Above: Thomas Edison, Mina Edison, Henry Ford. Edison's laboratory, well enough equipped that you could possibly make any part for your car especially the rubber tires and anything wood, glass or electrical. The Edison home, or the guest house (which is a mirror image of the first).
Below: The Ford home. Some Ford vehicles. A view of the ocean front property.
Saturday, December 27, 2014:
Mimi's Breakfast Run with the British Car Club of Southwest Florida, meeting at Mimi's Cafe in Fort Myers, FL. Apparently the "run" part was less than a mile drive from hotel to restaurant as it was just a breakfast meeting. But we did meet some new friends with 32 people for breakfast. And I may have volunteered to attempt a little web site repair for this club. We will see how it goes, as I have another appointment with the "President" a few days hence.
I spent most of the rest of the day (and half the night) investigating current state of the BCCSWF web site, downloading web pages, and changing local page links from absolute to relative addressing (for functional reasons), and making it all work on my local hard drive.
Sunday, December 28, 2014:
Later start today, but nearly all day working on the BCCSWF web site.
Monday, December 29, 2014:
Another half day working on the BCCSWF web site. Then a run north to St Petersburg to visit Bob Lindstrom, who has a daily driver MGB, which incidentally makes a great pizza pick up vehicle. Great late night chat. More photos by daylight tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014:
After breakfast a long chat with Bob Lindstrom. Then a bit later the president of the local British Car club dropped in to continue the chat. Early afternoon we finally checked out back to see the rest of Bob's toys. Under wraps, one bug-eye Sprite and the back half of an MG Midget waiting patiently to become a trailer. Unveiled, one MG ZA Magnette, begging for restoration. We had intended to visit Alec Knight nearby in St Petersburg, but he was very busy trying to get his house sold today, so no go there.
Mid afternoon run back south to Lehigh Acres, FL (near Fort Myers), to meet with about a dozen officers and staff members of British Car Club of Southwest Florida. We were assembled to discuss (among other things) status of their club web site and what to do about it. In the end it was put on hold for at least a few days pending some intended action on the part of the existing webmaster.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014:
Lots of web work and some year-end clerical stuff. Then an evening run from Fort Myers to Plantation, Florida (near Davies which is near Fort Lauderdale). It was a bit weird getting here. In Fort Myers we were ousted from a 24-hour McDonald's on short notice when they closed at 8-pm on New Years eve. Oops. We knew we were going to the east coast for next morning appointment, but not sure of the exact address. Thought we were supposed to be going to Lantana, but turns out (with a panic search at last minute) we needed to go to Davies. Had just enough time to write route instructions to a main intersection in Davies, before hitting the road (with some wishful thinking).
On arrival we lucked out and found another 24-hour McD's in Plantation that was actually open 24-hours, and got back on WiFi. Problem was, our destination didn't have a street address specified, just a general location near a main intersection (not even knowing what city it was supposed to be). Working with Google search, a restaurant name, a shopping center name, and a highway intersection, we found the nearby restaurant with a street address, and posted that as our early morning destination. Now we wait a few more hours to see if I'm lucky. Crazy way to celebrate New Years arrival.