The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (September 16, 2015 - September 30, 2015)

Wednesday September 16, 2015
A short side trip today to visit Chuck Asbury at Fine Line Auto in Wichita, Kansas. We bumped into this fellow in a restaurant the day before as he was asking about our MGA. He has a few MGs tucked away in the back lot. The first is his personal MGA which he intends to have restored in time for a class reunion in a few years. There are also four MGB here. The first will run, given fuel and maybe a new fuel pump. There are two hard tops in the bunch, neither of which I can identify (because I am not MGB guru). The cars all look like good restoration candidates.

On recommendation from Chuck, we make a vsit to H & H Motor Co (also near by). There is report of a V8 Triumph here. The note on the door makes this a very brief visit. We will keep this one on the Friends list for a future visit.

Thursday September 17, 2015
On special invitation, we just spent last evening and night with Harry Price in Rose Hill, Kansas, same bloke we visited on Tuesday. Very nice to have another chat and dinner with the family (we think maybe his wife was showing off with a nice spread).
Today was much absorbed with contacting clubs and people and route planning. That sometimes takes a lot of time when contacts are slow to respond (or not responding at all). We broke a throttle cable while putzing around town (not a bad time for it to happen). I was surprised this one lasted 45,000 miles (a full year in this case). Installation of a new one took about ten minutes.
By evening we pointed it north for a couple hours, enjoying top-down T-shirt cruising after dark. We landed in Junction City, KS. We would have gone a bit farther, but we were within an hour of our next appointment, and there was a big lightning storm directly in our path, so we stopped and took advantage of the extra hour of WiFi.

Friday September 18, 2015
Today we stopped in at A+ Collision Repair in Topeka, Kansas. Before I could get out of the car we were surrounded by curiosity seekers, and nearly accosted by a bloke with a big grin carrying a freshly stained and varnished wood dash (for a TR6, I suppose). And that's the business owner Mark Canaday with another big grin.

The British cars are in the third bay, not in the shop today. Check out some TR3s, a TR4, a TR7, a Morgan, and a Mini getting a full restoration as original. Also a 1947 Ford woody wagon and a VW Karman Ghia (hiding under the hardtop behind the Chevy). The TR7 race car is a bit of curiosity. The has a Miata DOHC engine and gearbox, TR3 carburetors (works a treat), IRS, TR8 4-wheel disc brakes. They get dinged for a time penalty for the engine transplant, but then Mark says he has never seen a TR7 engine finish a race, so maybe it is a reasonable trade off.

The glass top coffee table is cute. Underneath is a rear wheel from a Carl Hass Racing Can-Am car (broken wheel due to a broken half-shaft). I didn't measure it, but it appears to be more than 18-inches wide. If you do business here you can post your business card on the wall. What color paint did you say you liked? We mix any color in the rainbow (and maybe a lot that aren't).

This picture was a toughie, taken on the fly at dusk. It is a 125 foot long windmill blade on a stretcher semi truck. When I saw the second one go past I knew there would be a third on, so I had the camera ready a few minutes later. We were traveling north from Kansas sailing through Nebraska on our way to Iowa.

Saturday September 19, 2015
Today we start with a breakfast meet at Sugars in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Inside the Lounge and the Diner are one and the same, maybe depending on which side of the room you prefer. We arrived a bit early expecting to depart for a tour at 9:30 a.m., stumbled around a bit, then found a couple arriving at 9:30. After a bit of a wait another couple arriving but that would be it, only three cars for today's tour, but a nice intimate group Meet Brian & Jane Goldsmith from Treymor , Iowa, and John & Bev Ulrich from Lincoln, Nebraska. This was to be an art tour with "Her Majesty's Royal Nebraska Patrol"" (a British car club from the Omaha, Nebraska area).

After a short breakfast break we rolled on east down US-6 to Oakland. This could be a bit intimidating being sandwiched between a 3.4L-V6 and a 4.0L-V8. Note: This is not a Ghetto Honda, just a big resonator behind the V6. The first problem was the street we were to visit was blocked off. At least the chosen name for the event here seems to be honest. Apparently nothing to do with the county wide art tour on the same week end. But we finally found the Art Tour sign at the Museum.

Apparently I was more interested in the Museum than the art. A nice old steam engine, working model just large enough to ride on, not sure how much useful work it might do. A beautiful old cash register, possibly more art than safe. And a beautiful old Spalti Brothers safe, inside of a safe, inside of another safe. I wonder how long it took to open three sets of doors, even if you knew the combination.

Another jaunt down the road to Macedonia, and we stopped to visit the Painted Camel Gallery. The curator is a jolly old soul. They are struggling to get a grant to do some advertising. Lots of interesting art inside, some it it quite old.

Across the street we found the Stempel Bird Collection & Museum. Next to Audubon, what could be better? I had far too many pictures to post here.

Another short drive along and we stopped at the Wilson Performing Arts Center in Red Oak, Iowa. Judging from the building colors, and the business across the street, I think we know who the major sponsor is. And finally we get to concentrate on some art, because that's all that's here today.

One more stop on the Art Tour brought us to Malvern, Iowa. The first step brought us a little blacksmithing demonstration, and you can buy any of this you like.

Just one more step indoors, brought more art, but I was more interested in the ongoing building restoration.

Around the block there was an old church being rehabbed, and being used as an art gallery in the process. The engineer in my said to check out the building first.

Outside and inside, plenty of art, and you could buy any of it.

Then we had a late lunch in a local diner, and it was time to bid farewell, for we had some traveling to do. By a bit past 9-pm we were a couple hundred miles south in Lawrence, Kansas, setting up for our morning appointment.

Sunday September 20, 2015
Lawrence All British Car Club, informal car show today, gathering at at Legends on Wakarusa Dr in Lawrence, Kansas, at least 30 cars. At front of the first line we have a TR7 carrying a Pontiac Firebird 2.8L V6 engine.

We had a number of big Healeys (including one AH 100). The big white thing is a modern Jag XK. There was an assortment of MGB, a few "modern" Midgets, couple bug-eye Sprites. There was one early Lotus Elan with 13-inch peg drive knock-off steel wheels (and a Toyota engine) sitting next to a "who-let-that-in" Honda S2000.

There was a TR4 with a Kent Prather built engine (goes like scat) snuggled up close to the two MGA, and a not-so-magic Midget with a fuel injected Ford Focus engine that recently suffered its second fuel fire. First fire was due to a cracked aluminum pipe in the fuel injector rail (since changed to a steel pipe). Second fire is "guessed" to have originated at the fuel feed hose which may have been near the exhaust manifold. On board fire extinguisher didn't work, because a plastic housing on the pull cable melted and disabled the pull. Lessons here are use steel fuel pipe except for the final flexible connector hose, and use an all-metal pull cable, and/or position it farther away from the engine.

A nice Austin Healey 100 (very original I think) sitting next to a fiberglass Cobra clone, followed by a bug-eye Sprite with a supercharger (Yee-haa).

There was a Mini Cooper punched out to 1360-cc with an unusual radiator fan having at least 16 narrow turbine-like fan blades, sitting next to another Mini of more normal stature (except larger diameter wheels, newer model I think). The Jaguar was a 1956 XK-140-SE, where "SE" means "Special Equipment". In this case is it a C-type engine that was factory original, apparently a clone of the racing engines used at LeMans. For any British car show you go to, you can pretty much bet on seeing something new you have never seen before.

Monday September 21, 2015
Time to spare, so after email and BBS and tech questions, I spent the rest of the day posting vintage advertising stuff on my web site. Kind of nice to have a "day off" and not have to travel much. For what it's worth, I have enough of this vintage literature stuff to fill any spare time for a long time to come.

Tuesday September 22, 2015
Oh-oh, we've been "found out" (again). Someone saw our MGA in the car park and called the local TV station. Then there was a reporter type bloke with a camera wanting to do an interview, and this popped up on the local news in the Lawrence, Kansas area.

Wednesday September 23, 2015
A bit of maintenance mid day. Right front shock absorber lost oil (several days earlier). The large side seal (left in photo) was half out of place but very tight, required a large pry lever to put it back. I think that seal has a steel shell. The small side seal (right in photo) was half out of place and very loose, could almost push it back into place with fingers. Pretty sure that one has a rubber covered shell. Both seals pushed back flush in place, and now topped up with oil, but I expect the small side seal may pop out again with thermal expansion of the oil first time the shock gets hot again.

Stop tonight for a meeting with Topeka British Car Club, and potluck dinner in the backyard of a club member. Great fun with about 20 people, good chat about British car things, got stuffed and got pictures. "SWT MOM" lives here.

That last picture would be "Sweet Mom" who has owned the MG TF for about 35 years.

And we're off again, heading for points north.
Okay, after a quick WiFI stop we rolled on up to Nebraska City, Nebraska before knocking off for the night.

Thursday September 24, 2015
Another one of those "kill-a-day" days in Nebraska City. This time I had some fun posting some MGA related cartoons in the Humor section (along with more route planning and tech questions).

Friday September 25, 2015
This evening a short jaunt (20 miles) to Nehawka NE for a dinner meeting with Flatwater Austin Healey Club at Steel Horse Saloon. Near as I can count, 22 club members present, and Navigator says the Pizza was g-r-e-a-t!.

After dinner a bit of tire kicking in the street while we got to meet some folks we didn't get to chat with inside. A few were a bit surprised when they found out who we were and what we were doing here. A few others had met us before and may have suspected we were coming. When the streets had cleared we followed the E-type (35 miles) to the outskirts of Omaha for fuel stop and WiFi connection. Now past midnight, so we may camp here so we can enjoy travel by daylight tomorrow.

Saturday September 26, 2015
Hey. I didn't realize I had moved to Omaha and bought a new car. Turning left from Bob Boozer Drive, maybe that had something to do with it.
Heading west out of Omaha on US-275, I was beginning to think Nebraska looked a lot like Illinois and Iowa with lots of corn and soybeans, but then the scenery changed. Seems like they have a lot of cows here, thousands of tons of steak and hamburger on the hoof, and millions of acres of hay to fuel it. And don't forget leather for the car seats.

And there were hundreds of miles of flat as a pancake and straight as an arrow. This is the first time I have had a chance to drive through Nebraska for real. For prior passes I just cut across the southeast corner of the state a few times, sometimes not setting foot down. Prior to one of those little footless corner clips in 1997 this was the only state I had never been in. People said I wasn't missing much. Not that I think it's boring (even though navigator was trying to sleep through most of it), it's just kind of slow motion for hours on end while the movie plays past. I'm still glad we ran it by daylight so I could see what I wasn't missing. And still better here than flying past blindly on the interstate.
After five hours including one snack stop, a half hour of WiFi, and one fuel stop, we were 300 miles along in Valentine, NE. Beginning to be irritated by the afternoon sun in the eyes, we hauled in for a lunch break and email check. Navigator wanted to wait for the sun to go down. Then I wanted to wait until morning so we wouldn't miss the sights for the next four hours. So we sat on WiFi until late night while I did some more posting of vintage advertising for MGA.

Sunday September 27, 2015
Another hour west from Valentine on US-20, running through Samuel R McKelvie National Forest, beginning to see some hills, but still lots of cattle and hay. Then we turned north on NE-61. Several miles later crossing into South Dakota the route changed to SD-78 running through Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge, by which time we are in forests and proper hills.

After a short jog east in US-18, we continued north on smaller paved roads with various odd names running through Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Badlands National Park with lots of ragged rocks to go with the hills (and likely somewhere you would not like to go for a walk about).

Eventually we ran into our intended destination for the day, Rapid City, South Dakota, where we met Mickey & Heidi Hartnett for lunch at Firehouse Brewing Company. After lunch we wandered a few blocks to visit Motor Service Company. This place is long since out of business. but carries a ton of history, and by now perhaps some ghost stores. Some time ago the place was purchased lock, stock and barrel by someone who now keeps it pretty much sealed up for historical purposes.

Looking for fuel stop before heading for the hills for some cruising, the MGB took a dive and quit running. Quickly diagnosed as failure of the Pertronics ignition module, after a bit of tinkering and cool down it started again (surprise). Deciding to take it home was a good idea, as the ignition soon failed again. After a bit more tinkering it was running well enough to nurse it home and park it with its garage mate the MG Midget.

Then they pulled out "the beast", a MG MGC GTS. After a quick fuel stop we were of for some mountain road cruising, finally ending up in a nice campground with a babbling brook for the night.

Now just ran out of daylight, so will have to finish these notes later.

Monday September 28, 2015
Today we were heading for Mount Rushmore Memorial, only a short distance from Hill City. We weren't in any rush, so we told Mapquest to take the short route, which sometimes turns into the scenic route. In this case it turned into the impossible route. Old Hill City Road was a nice twisty paved road through the woods. But a designated right turn onto Palmer Gultch Road was immediately accompanied by a "No Outlet" sign. Not minding the gravel, it was only to be 1.5 miles, so we would give it a jolly good try. But less than a mile on there was a large gate with a "Welcome to KOA" sign, apparently the reason for the prior "No Outlet" sign. So we went back to the main road to find our own way around. Meanwhile I kept thinking, "I wonder if the big motor homes like this road"?

We did ultimately get to Mount Rushmore. Been there, done that before, so no surprises here, except that it has been evolving into more of a tourist trap. Since last visit in the early 1980's I don't remember so many acres of Gift Shop and Restaurants, and the multi-level parking garages. If you like that sort of thing you can look it up on the internet.

Leaving Rushmore and heading west, we happened across the south end of Palmer Gultch Road, this time with a "Dead End" sign, and obviously advertising the KOA Kampground. So I suppose Mapquest was right (technically) about being able to drive through this road, but it is tagged dead end due to some of it being private property.

Next stop was Crazy Horse Memorial. Overcast was limiting quality of pictures, so I post only one plus a couple photos from inside the Visitors Center. This mountain carving was started in 1945 after work on Mount Rushmore had stopped (largely for lack of government funding). It was decided that this project would never accept any government funding, so it is exclusively private enterprise plus support from charitable donations. Work began very slowly with one man, then later with help from his growing family (wife and 10 children). Over time with better funding the work has been accelerating, but may still be decades more before completion. When I was last here in 1981 the face was roughed out as well as top of the arm and the tunnel under the arm. Today the face is finished as well as some of the arm and hand. Perhaps more significant is the steps or terraces with lots of rock removed in preparation for carving the horse. There is also a narrow road up the face of the mountain allowing heavy equipment to be driven up the hill. The other significant change is a massive expansion of the Visitors Center. I don't remember so many acres of gift shop and restaurants, and likely more than 100 people running the concessions. It is obviously drawing in lots of tourist money, so perhaps they are not so rushed to finish the rock carving.

Then as we were heading more south with persistent rain we saw a sign saying "Large Wildlife In The Road" accompanied by a picture of an elk. I suppose they were not kidding, but while we did not see any elk we did find this little fellow standing very near the road side. He was under some trees, likely waiting patiently for the rain to subside, and he didn't appear to be much concerned about the passing vehicles. As it kept raining we kept driving south, and soon it was goodbye South Dakota and hello Nebraska. A short time later we stopped in Chadron, Nebraska for a WiFI break, email, BBS, and posting photos and notes. After 10-pm we had not decided if we would push on or maybe lay stakes for the night.

Tuesday September 29, 2015
We got out of Chadron, Nebraska after a morning email check. Cruising a bit west and farther south we were enjoying the the more mildly rolling mountains. Around the border from Nebraska into Wyoming we were passing huge fields of sunflowers. If we want to eat them, someone has to grow them. We were also running into some oil pumpers, not a lot here, but more as we go.

By mid afternoon we were in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We were here to visit Greg Brown who by now should be well known for rebuilding MGA gearbox shift extension assemblies and manufacturing the original split bronze bushings. I did a little work on WiFi until Greg got off of work, at which we went out for a casual dinner and extended chat. We will take this up again tomorrow. Time for a snooze.

Wednesday September 30, 2015
After killing the whole morning on WiFi, we dropped in to see Greg Brown where he works, taking care of maintenance on highway equipment. Today he drove his MGA to work. Of course these cars attract attention whenever they appear. The cop called a friend he knew who was interested in MGA.

While I was here (not coincidentally) I picked up a rebuilt shift extension housing for my MGA. This is a nice piece of work. The spherical socket insert can be either aluminum or bronze (in place of the original solid aluminum housing).
Locking threaded side pins take the place of original press fit steel dowel pins. Journal bearing bores for the remote control shaft have sintered bronze bushings (in place of original bare aluminum bores). My MGA has been begging for one of these for a long time. But for now, toss it in the trailer for future reference.

After some more hours of WiFi work we cut out of Cheyenne (a bit over 6000 ft altitude) at 5:30 pm MST. We drove 35 miles south on US-85 running out of Wyoming into Colorado, then 82 miles east on CO-14, and another 135 miles east on US-6.
Lots of cattle in northern Colorado, some oil wells pumping and some not pumping (possibly run down to minimal production). Near the eastern edge of Mountain Time zone we ran out of daylight by 7 pm. A casual observation notices loss of altitude of about 1000 feet per hour (roughly 100 feet every 6 miles). Crossing into Nebraska, then entering Central Time zone, we landed in McCook NE by 11 pm CST at just over 2600 ft. Having done 267 miles we did not run out of gas (good planning and easy on the throttle for a while). They rolled up the sidewalks here, so a good time to end the month.

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