The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (August 16, 2015 - August 31, 2015)

Sunday August 16, 2015
Tour run and picnic today with Columbia Gorge MG Club. Meeting at a shopping center in Oregon City, and touring some back roads to Welches, Oregon. Near as I could count on the fly there were about a dozen cars in the caravan, and a few more meeting us at the end point.

This MGB lot out a HUGE cloud of smoke for several seconds en-route then setted down to behave normally. I had a look under the bonnet, and think I have a viable explanation. The engine has the front tappet cover vent connected with a hose hanging down beside the engine, but likely not positioned properly to act as a draft pipe. It also has a finned aluminum valve cover with a large vented and filtered oil filler cap. My guess is the filler cap was dribbling oil onto the top of the valve cover where the oil could accumulate and puddle. When the car ran down a steep hill, and driver hit the brakes for a turn, oil would run off the front end of the cover and get on the hot exhaust manifold. Result would be a momentary large cloud of oil smoke. If I'm right, then the car needs some work on crankcase ventilation.

Otherwise the tour and picnc was a great success. Wonderful weather, good friends, good food, lots of neat cars, play some croquette. There was another small trailer that may make the Trailer section of my web site.

After the fun was over we headed east (solo) over the south side of Mount Hood, then north up the east side, with some concern about smoke from forest fires. We ended up in Hood River, Oregon (on the Columbia River) where we were destined to spend the night.

Monday August 17, 2015
A long day on WiFI, email, BBS, tech questions, and a few new web pages. Near day's end we felt the need to catch a little bit of what was left of the sun, so we drove east 20 miles along the south side of the Columbia River from Hood River to The Dalles. We hope to get some better pictures from the other side by daylight tomorrow.

By now you should know our plans may change with little or no notice. Approaching 11:00-pm, as we were about to get tossed out of our WiFi spot, another red MGA rolled into the car park, and nice couple stopped to say hello. This turned out to be a car and people we had met at the club picnic the day before (far right in the group picture above). We snapped this picture a few minutes befoe the parking lot lights went out at midnight.

Then we made a snap decision not to spend the night in The Dalles (no longer sleepy), so we drove another 20 miles east before crossing the Columbia River and heading north on US-97. We arrived in Yakima, WA about 2:00 am, a nice quiet place to spend the night.

Tuesday August 18, 2015
Meeeting tonight with MG Car Club NW Centre, Far East division in Yakima, Washington. At least 17 people present, lots of new friends. A few of them escaped after the dinner meeting but before the picture. That's a mid-50's Sunbeam Aline at the right with MG TD front suspension (much like MGA). Following the meeting we hit a local WiFI spot until closing time, posting these photos and notes (among other things). Tired, need some sleep.

Wednesday August 19, 2015
Day on WiFi, a couple new tech web pages, a few revisions of old pages with new potos, several tech questions, and a security issue with the club web site in Chicago that sucked up some time. Early afternoon we bailed out of Yakima heading east on WA-24 to Colfax. This is where we found hugh fields of hops (for all the beer lovers).

Then we sailed south on US-195 then US-95 into Lewiston, Idaho. We have intention of running up the Spiral Highway (the old Lewiston Grade), possibly tomorrow. For tonight we have an appointment with Vaughn Wasem in Clarkston, Washington a few miles to the west.

Thursday August 20, 2015
Day of rest (sort of). Got a message today with bad news. Bill Beacher in Abilene, Texas had a hay fire, causing loss of a Morgan and the TR3 (refer March 27, 2015). More web work and dinner with the Wasems in Clarkston. Plenty of late night chat time, and a good time was had by all.

Friday August 21, 2015
We finally got to do the run Lewiston Grade today, up the Spiral Highway. The blue line is 4% grade for a little over 8 miles in 18 minutes. The gold line (newer highway) is up to 7% grade for 6 miles in 7 minutes.

Collecting the Wassums on the way out for escort to the base of the hill, cruising east on the north side of the Snake River, beginning the ascent.

Lots of fires around the area, so we ran into some notable smoke half way up, nothing to sneeze at (if you enjoy smoke). This old road from 1917 is easy enough to drive, only 4% grade goes well in 3rd gear at about 45-mph with the trailer, considering a number of 2nd gear swithbacks.

At the top we have a view of the road below. The markers tell much about the road. There is also some folk lore born here, for those of us who may remember the Hot Rod Lincoln (by Charley Ryan, 1st version). The song says Grapevine Hill, but that race actually took place here on Lewiston Grade.

Saturday August 22, 2015
Early start today with a breakfast meeting with Inland Empire MG Classics in Spokane Valley, Washington, finding several nice British car here, mostly MGs.

Inside we had a meeting with nearly 20 people, lots of business to discuss. Then out to the car park for a bit of tire kicking before hitting the road for a tour. Starting the tour with half a dozen cars, a couple dropped out before we were our of town.

We were cruising east through mountains for a couple hours, enjoying a little smoke (and other classic sights). At a mid point break another car dropped out, and we finally arrived in Hope, Idaho with just three cars. Lunch break was at The Floating Restaurant.

After lunch we lost the green car. A bit farther east at Clark Fork during a fuel stop the gold car turned back, and we were on our own to continue on east.

Then we were travaling ID-200, MT-200 and MT-56 through the Kaniksu National Forest, getting up close and personal with the fire line. Road signs dictated "45 MPH, No Stopping".

We made a short stop in Libby, MT, intending to visit a friend but the appointment fell through,so we continued east. This was not the quickest route, but it was sceinic. In Kalispell we found this Nash Ambassador (1957 Series 80 perhaps) on a stick as we were turning south on US-92. We finally landed for the night in Missoula, MT. Did I mention that mountains and forests are way cool?

Sunday August 23, 2015
Doing notes a couple days in arrears, must not forget which day it is. We were planning to go east to Billings, MT, but that appointment was also cancelled. I spent some time on new web pages, some tech questions, and verifying some new appointments. Then with a change of plans, late night we turned north and drove back to Kalispell (110 mile back track) in preparation for next day's run.

Monday August 24, 2015
With a couple cancelled appointments we seemed to have a day to spare, so we headed north from Kalispell into Glacier National Park to run Going To The Sun Highway (because navigator had never been there). Driving through more smoke from fires in the area, we use my Seniors National Park Pass to enter free (Remember June 1st at Yosemite?). As we gained altitude the smoke was clearing up some, and more sun and a bit warmer. No vehicles over 21 foot length allowed here (allowing for the Jitney tour buses), but my trailer rig is okay at 19-1/2 feet.

The road is quite narrow in places with a jagged mountain on one side and a stone retaining wall on the other side. The motorcycle looks comfortable, and my small car is good, but some of the larger sport-ute vehicles are not so much fun. Altitude of the pass here is 6646 feet. There is the remains of a fairly recent forest fire.

After exit from the park we continued east to Cut Bank, MT for some WiFi time, email check, and planning. We have an appointment in Williston, North Dakota tomorrow night, due east, no great rush today. But as fate would have it, one email tech question came from Billings, MT, and we suddenly have a change of plans. Point it southeast and stand on the throttle, 330 miles in 5 hours, arriving in Billings, Montana 10:45-pm to visit Jim Casper with his MGA 1600-MK-II. All in all, not the shortest route from Missoula to Billings, but we ended up there anyway, about 600 miles in the past 24 hours.

Tuesday August 25, 2015
Jim's MGA has been running bad recently. Hard to start, he thought it had low compression, but that checked out okay. It turned out the choke cable was so long (out of adjustment) that it never got any choke, so very hard to start when cold. Rear carb was lean, front carb was rich, front choke was sticking down, always rich. Got a that fixed, and it runs like an MG again (insert big grin here). Still need to clean the main jet (front one) so it doesn't stick. Also needs a new set of HT spark wires. Short on time, so we split early afternoon.

We filled the fuel tank, pointed it northeast up I-90 and MT-16, stood on the throttle. They have lots of oil up this way. Adding one more fuel stop, we did 326 miles in 5 hours, landing in Williston, North Dakota by 7-pm.
We were here to visit Rex and Linda Byerly. They have an MGA being restored, currently stored in Bismarck, ND, so I settle for a photo of a photo on his computer. He also has a '55 T-bird in Bismarck, and a few more toys here in Williston, including a 1947 International on a Chevy S10 chassis with 2.8-liter carbureted V6. It is destined to be a flat bed work horse, and it might be fun with 200 horsepower.

Wednesday August 26, 2015
We lit out of Williston at 8-am. A couple hours east we were running out of oil fields, followed by a lot of nothing. I think those are bee hives (honey bees) on left in the first picture. Then we found some wind generators on the windy flat plains.

We landed in Bismarck, ND about noon, here to visit Paul and Sue King. First impression is, this is one car guy who has his priorities in order. Upper level has a 3-1/2 car garage with rattle space for the regular rolling stock. Lower level has a single garage door opening into a free space (no support columns) that could easily hold half a dozen cars (if it wasn't for all the workshop equipment). Building restrictions here do not allow any free standing buildings on the property so all of the garage space is part of the house. Very impressive. Yes that's a 1980 Datsun 280ZX in very nice condition, which he was just autocrossing for the first time yesterday.

Paul has an MGA 1600 under restoration, and lots of questions, especially about an odd intermittent clicking noise, perhaps in the vicinity of #2 rocker arm. We had the valve cover off a few times re-adjusting the rocker arm +/- a few thou, but didn't seem to make much difference so the click is still a mystery, but it was tune-up time.

After a few start and run sessions, it wouldn't start again. This turned out to be a failed Pertronics ignition module with no clue why it just died with nothing changed. In this case it went open circuit with no blink of a test light when cranking. We installed the original points and condenser and it started and ran, but spark timing was much retarded. We had to R&R the distributor drive gear to realign it by one tooth to get the distributor in correct orientation. After that a standard tune-up, and it runs well. Paul thinks he will give up on Pertronics, as this is the third one failed while the new engine has not done 10 miles yet.
Lots of MG chit chat followed by a nice BBQ dinner, some more chat time on the deck, and this late night computer session to bring you the photos and notes.

Thursday and Friday August 27-28, 2015
Aside from the normal BBS, email and tech questions, I spent most of two days putting the club newsletter on line. Apparently no MG or all-British car clubs in South Dakota, but I'm sure there are some British cars there, as there is a vintage sports car club in Rapid City, SD. Spent more time reviewing club web sites. We now expect to go to Fargo, ND for a breakfast meeting tomorrow, and then on to Minneapolis, MN for a club picnic on Sunday.

Saturday August 29, 2015
On the road at 4:30am today, rolling down I-94 east from Bismarck. Top down and foggy, but not very cold, we had to run the screenwipers intermittently for the first hour to keep scraping the fog off the glass. Then we got an hour of bugs plastered on the windscreen. When daylight began to sneak in against the overcast, we found one lonely windmill looking very odd by itself. Overcast did us the favor of tempering the oncoming sun from our eyes.
We arrived in Fargo, ND in time for 8-am breakfast meeting with British Iron Society at Fryní Pan Restaurant. This is a loosely run club with no officers, no dues, no treasury and no newsletter (since they are now on Facebook). They do breakfast every Saturday and go driving somewhere every Thursday (usually). Today we had 16 hungry people who like to chat, and a few new appointments to keep us busy half the day. Sorry a bit slow on the trigger, so some of the people had left before we got the pictures, and we may have missed some British cars as well.

During breakfast I received a call from Mickey Hartnett in Rapids City, South Dakota. This was a response to my inquiry about Black Hills Classic Sports Car Club, who happen to sponsor a British-Foreign car show (mostly British cars). Apparently they are in the process of changing the club name to Black Hills British Sports Car Club (because it is mostly British cars). Woohoo! We finally have a British car club in South Dakota. Unfortunately we just blew past it in the small hours of the morning, and we may not get back there immediately, but we will keep it on out Friends list for a future visit.
For now we toddled over to visit James Ohnstad at British Motor Works (sign on the door). The "OK" sign on front of the building is a remnant of his "OK Tires" business at other locations.

Outside we find a very nice MG TC. Inside we find a nice MG TD, a Mini, and an MGB GT with some neat mods. This GT is sporting a 2.8-liter V6 with fuel injection, and a hitch (under the large capacity fuel tank) for the matching red and white trailer. Find more about that trailer in the Trailer Tech section of this web site).

Then we trucked along to visit Gregg Eriksmoen (also in Fargo ND), starting at his brother Neal's place, to see the Austin Healey 100 restoration body in process. Then we went to Greg's place to visit all the rest of the parts of the same car.

By that time it was mid afternoon, and I still had computer work to catch up. We sort of blundered into this place, which I only mention because it is a modern retro model which us older folk can remember from the 50's and 60's. It turned out to have all the modern amenities, including wall outlets for chargers along with WiFi, so we stayed for hours while I was posting photos and notes and doing a hard drive data backup (very time consuming).
After photos and notes, using all avalable time tracing future appointments, we got tossed out of the WiFi spot at midnight closing time. Having a long way to go, we decded to truck on down the road to get closer to our next appointment, and a few hours later we ended up at a rest stop on I-94 near Avon, MN. That made for along day, about 23 hours form wake to sleep (but just over 350 miles, nothing special on distance).

Sunday August 30, 2015
A morning WiFi break, a short stop at Walmart, then 90+ miles for InterMarque Picnic with Minnesota MG Group (and other clubs) at Cherokee Park in St Paul, Minnesota by 1-pm. Having walked a block to collect these pictures, it dawned on me later that I missed more than a few British cars parked on the other side of the street. Pretty sure at least 30 British cars here, plus a few more non-descript. So there must have been about 60 people in the park for the picnic.

Folks kept moving around, so I'm sure I missed a few of them as well. Good food, good friends lots of chat abot British cars, and a good time was had by all.
As we were enjoying the day, we figured the Moped convention must be in town somewhere, as something like 200 Mopeds went buxzing through the park like a swam of bees. For sure they were having fun. There was one three-wheeler, but nothing like the Harleys, as none of these bikes held more than one rider. Sorry, no pictures of the Mopeds, but they were cute.
After munchies I had a chance to do carburetor adjustment on an MGA belonging to Bob Jensen, changing it from rumble-sputter to purr. The owner wanted me to drive it a bit, so we did a couple blocks in the park. It goes well with 1800 engine and 5-speed gearbox, front sway bar, and nothing else wanting.
As things were breaking up we were escorting the same MGA about 20 miles east out of town for a visit with Bob Jensen who is owner of Bob's Auto Repair in Stillwater, MN. He has another one of those nice "Aluma" aluminum trailers. In the "shed" under the back deck he has some hidden treasures, and he dug out a box with lots of parts for MGA gearboxes (which he doesn't need since converting his MGA to 5-speed). From this we gleaned a number of good gears (and other parts) which I may be able to use to get rid of the nasty 1st and reverse gear ticking noises in my car (bugging me for two weeks already).

In the shed Bob also has another nice MGA that has been "Jensenized" a bit. How many mods can you spot? Seems like this led to dinner followed by extended MG chat running after dark, until we had to beg off and run.

Monday August 31, 2015
Slept in until 10? This is something new. On the road again, we found a nice MGB on the expressway with a very cute driver. We followed it a mile off the expressway and exchanged waves at a traffic light before U-turn to be on our way. No idea where it was going, except for being on the south side of Saint Paul. Having trouble finding a WiFi spot with a wall outlet for the computer chargers. The effort finally paid off at #4 where we sat long enough for a recharge while planning and mapping for the day.
By mid afternoon we were pressing our luck for time to make our appointments and had to shove off in rapid fashion. We pointed it north on I-35, and after 30 miles in 30 minutes we landed at BMC British Automobile in Stacy, MN [since moved to Isanti, MN]. The business has been here for 15 years, and it is about to move into space about five times larger, for which they are all very excited. It is wonderful to see a vintage car service shop expanding. Dig the fuel injected 3.4L V6 (with air conditioning) going into the MGB.

I always like to check out buried treasure in the back yard.

Two Magnettes are for sale on behalf of a friend. Two Morris Minor trucks (quite rare) are for restoration. Stuff under the canopy looks disorganized, but there's gold in them thar hills.

Ah, but we tary too long when time is short. Head west on County 22, and more rapidly west on US-10. 66 miles, and an hour and a quarter later we found Midwest Motor Sports in Sauk Rapids MN. This shop has been going for about 40 years, 25 of that in the current location, and hopefully no stopping any time soon.

But we're not done yet. Fifteen minutes on WiFi to scratch out new route instructions, and we were off again heading back east and south. A bit of US-10, followed by a lot of I-94, then I-494, followed by I-35W South and I-35. A bit of zig zag on the end, an we end up on a side street in Webster, MN, well south of Minneapolis.
We are here to visit Dave Braun in Webster, MN (and we made it before dark). Aside from a nice assortment of toys, Dave has a business rebuilding SU carburetors, some LBC restoration and service, and a bunch of free advice and technical information on his website We have a nice dinner, and Brit car chat runs late night. Then (you know the routine by now), I go to work posting photos and notes (until the small hours of the morning).

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