The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (May 1 - May 15, 2016)

Sunday, May 1, 2016
New 3-ohm ignition coil and new points installed, today we were off for a real test drive in Billy Cornette's MGA. On the outbound leg roads are expanding, and all is well until dark clouds threaten rain.

So we picked up the pace a bit as there are no shortcuts around the mountains, and we were in the middle of a 20 mile loop. A few sprinkles were fine, and we made it back without being drenched.

At right is a picture of the final part of the drive, following the diminishing roads back to the garage. The car ran perfectly for the whole 20 miles, grins all around.

During this tour I noticed a clunk noise emanating from the right rear wheel. On return we were investigating (roughly) the amount of backlash in the splined hub. This seemed substantial, about 1/4-inch rotation at the tire tread. Photos below show close up of the splines, appearing excessively sharp (meaning worn), not likely to fail soon, but enough concern to begin considering replacement.

Monday, May 2, 2016
Got a little catch-up work done on my car today. Insulation glued into the doors (almost 30 years overdue).

Door pockets and kick panels installed. And the wheelbox inverted so we have dual wipers again. As an aside, the last picture is one of my favorite little tools, a right angle Yankee screw driver (with Stanley name in it), two Phillips bits and reversible ratchet. This is very handy for the demister vents under the windscreen glass, when I had to remove the demister duct for access to the screenwiper wheelbox.

Going to be a very long night. Just received electronic copy of CMGC newsletter to post on the club web site.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Worked on club newsletter into the small hours of the morning, set alarm early, short sleep, but needed to do a few things today. Today's assignment for self was to change rear rebound straps and bump stops on all four corners, and swap the front shock absorbers left and right (a diagnostic maneuver).

Starting with rear bump stops, the old ones (in service nearly 30 years over 300,000 miles) didn't look too bad, but had obviously been hammered a lot. On both sides the inboard bolt had been hammered by the axle U-bolt to the point that a wrench socket would not fit on the bolt head. Rebound straps (also 30 years on service) had fared well, but looking tatty, so this is preventative maintenance. I hope the new ones do as well as the old ones.

Swapping shock absorbers is old hat by now. The supplier has requested switching sides as a diagnostic move. One side seems to be more prone to blowing a seal, so we want to see if the switch makes any difference (like it may have something to do with a difference in the suspension). When shocks are off is a good opportunity to change the rubber buffers. The red hue is over spray from the recent outer body repaint.

And the front rubber buffers? Somewhat the worse for wear, but what do you expect for 330,000 miles? I should pay more attention to keeping oil in the shocks. Last picture is the pile of junk from a half day's work.

Had a nice dinner with the hosts. Now I have to see if I can finish the club newsletter before I fall out of my chair. We have another appointment tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Going to have to figure out why left side trailer tire is losing air. Topped it off yesterday morning, and this morning it was very low again (but good enough for a four hour run today). So we packed everything up, said goodbye to Billy and Betty Cornette, and pointed it south on the expressways out of Virginia and through North Carolina. Arrived mid afternoon in Orangeburg, South Carolina to visit Bill Howerton. We soon got a tour of his toy shop. Try not to uncover the Porsches (three 911's and a 914-6), maybe a couple Ferrari hiding somewhere. Do take note of the LBC's.

As I recall, something like eight MGC, three MGB, two MGA, a TR6 (and I don't want to look under the rest of the covers). Well, okay, now he is down to only five MGC, but I think he has collected a few more cars I haven't seen yet.

We were here before, 18 months earlier, to help with his MGA Coupe. This time we started with his MGA roadster, reinstalling rebuilt carburetors, getting it running and tuned up.
Installation and tune-up went well, except for an intermittent spark issue. A new fuel hose was leaking at the crimp fitting, forcing us to reinstall the old fuel hose (still in serviceable condition). It runs well now, but may not run tomorrow.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Good morning, America. It is Cinco de Mayo Day, and the second anniversary of our travels. Regardless, no rest for the guru. Today we were joined by Francis Neal from Moncks Corner, South Carolina (Bill Howerton on left, Francis Neal on right). After an early lunch we all headed off to Bill's shop for more assistance on the roadster. Yesterday it ran intermittently, apparently some ignition problem, not a fuel issue. So Frank was pulling out the distributor while Bill was installing air cleaners.
The distributor base clamp as upside down, very difficult for access to the clamp bolt, so after removal the clamp was checked for straightness and function, and reinstalled right-side up. The distributor was "ohmed out", carefully checking for broken flex wires, but that seemed to be in good order. So by process of elimination the condenser was replaced, which (apparently) did fix the intermittent spark problem (score one for the good guys).

We spent some time bleeding brakes all around to get firm pedal, then went after the fuel gauge that would always read "Full". Disconnect wire from fuel level sending unit, switch on, open circuit pegs the fuel gauge, grounding the sender wire moves the gauge to "Empty", so the gauge seems to be working (just not sure about calibration). Get a new sending unit out of the box. Connect signal wire to new sender unit, and jump wire body of the unit to chassis ground. Moving sender arm top to bottom moves the gauge needle from Full to Empty in a nice smooth fashion, roughly linear, so it looks good to install.

Get wheels back on the car, and get the car off the stands. The fuel tank was about half full, so jack up the right side as high as possible before removing the RR wheel. Clean the area around the sender unit, and remove bottom screw first to assure that fuel level was below the sender unit. No leak there, so remove the rest of the screws and pull out the faulty sender. Lucky us, as fuel level was just below the lowest screw hole. Bright light and cursory inspection looking through the fuel reveals a small amount of rust in the tank. Not a lot there, but even a little bit of rust flakes can screw up fuel delivery so keep this in mind for driving later. Consider installing an in-line fuel filter. But hedging all bets, there is a new fuel tank waiting in the wings.

Information sheet for the new sending unit mentions a rubber gasket, but this one came with cork gaskets with undersize holes to fit tightly on the screw threads (very nice). The new screw set included nylon washers, which should not be needed with the tight fitting cork gasket, but we installed them anyway. Connect the supplementary grounding wire, since the aftermarket fuel pump is connected with rubber hoses (defeating the original tank ground). All assembled, the gauge reads "1/2", just about perfect as the car sits.
Wheels on, back on the ground, time for a test drive. Nice day for a top down run. Yahoo! It runs like a champ, sails through the gears, idles well. After several miles the coolant temperature was higher than expected, so back to the shop, then discovering the fan belt was so loose it was in jeopardy of jumping off. Tightened the belt, and coolant temperate was back to normal, a nifty 185-190dF with the original cell core radiator.

With a little time left today, we also took a look at Bill's blue coupe. This was the one that got a tune-up last tine we were here (summer 2014). Report was that brakes were somewhat "iffy". A short test drive revealed firm pedal (no air in the system), but slightly dragging brakes and insufficient braking force (odd combination). Sudden stop on cement pad locks up left side wheels but not right side (another odd combination). Investigation revealed dragging brakes on two wheels, corrected by backing off adjusters one notch. Also very little brake force on LR and no brakes at all on RR, both corrected by proper brake shoe adjustment. That was easy enough, now with good brakes on all four wheels. Grins all around. And by the way, we discovered this 1500 Coupe has a 1600 engine. Nice! Running out of daylight, time for dinner, followed by late night drudgery to finish posting the CMGC newsletter on line.

Friday, May 6, 2016
Up early (relatively speaking) to finish posting the past two days worth of photos and notes here. Then we were back to Bill's shop to take a shot at reviving his 1967 MGB GT. It has a recent repaint and new interior and new dash. It would crank but wouldn't start. A shot of starting fluid didn't work, and a bit of diagnostic said weak spark. After installing a new condenser another shot of starting fluid got it going immediately. We think maybe one year old gas may be the problem here, and the choke linkage needs adjustment. Bill claimed it had a coolant leak at the thermostat gasket. He had tightened the cover bolts, but figured it still leaked, so was about to change the thermostat and install a new gasket. This was an opportunity for diagnostic work first, so I pulled the radiator pressure tester out of my trailer (nice trick), and gave it 10 psi for a test. No leak; how about that? Just voided the need to change the thermostat or gasket.

After a tune up, while reinstalling the air cleaners we found both units had the air horn upside down, so the small vent holes were blocked. That could make it run like crap, but it only took a minute to set it right.

Lots of electrical things did not work, horn, heater, wipers, turn signals, brake lights, an a couple of parking lamps, so out came the test light. First, no power on the "brown" fuse, so clean and pinch the fuse clips for the fix. Then one horn would whisper while the other would tick, fixed by wiggling some dirty (Gawd I hate) Lucar connectors.

The LF parking lamp was dead, diagnosed as rusty bulb socket, finally encouraged to connect and light up. The RF parking lamp was dim, diagnosed as bad ground due to rusty housing and new paint on the fender, fixed by scraping paint and installing new screws. (Note to order two new front lamps). There was a bit of metal carved out of the fender before painting, so no mounting point for one of the lamp screws, fixed with a flat washer to overap on the remaining metal.
That also got both front turn signals to light up dimly (at the same time), diagnosed as both supply wires connected together when they should be separate circuits, fixed with a couple new female snap connectors (from my magic trailer). In the process we discovered some cold solder joints and sticky black tape falling off the harness (from normal operating heat). Note to self, shoot the DPO. No lights working at RR, because none of the wires were connected, fixed by plugging in the bullets. By this time heater and wipers were working, and all is right with the world.
I think there is an MGC begging for a tune up, but that will have to wait for another opportunity. Time to knock off for the day, as we all have other things to attend to.

Saturday, May 7, 2016
A quick hour run north today from Orangeburg to Columbia, SC to attend a luncheon club meeting with British Car Club Midlands Centre. Must have been at least 25 cars and 45 people. We may have a couple more appointments from this meeting.

This was followed by a drive to Congaree National Park, about 17 miles to the south. There we had a nice two mile walk around the board walks in the woods. The primary attraction here was Cypress trees in the low lying flood plains along the Congaree River. The tour ended with a free-for-all finding your way back to town.

Sunday, May 8, 2016
Catch-up day, mostly spent researching club contacts, making calls and sending email to clubs for future visits. This stuff takes a lot of time when club web sites do not have sufficient contact information (very common).

Monday, May 9, 2016
Mid day trip to visit Allison Hyatt in Winnsboro, SC. Also her friend Christine who has her 1975 MGB stored in Allison's workshop. How these women came to be British car enthusiast is a story in itself. They both get hands dirty on occasion doing some of their own auto maintenance, and they are both avid students anxious to learn about the cars. We love tech sessions.

Today's subject is to the MGB. Apparently it once had an under bonnet fire followed by clean up and repaint and a new wiring harness. More recently the air pump seized, so a shorter fan belt was installed and the air hoses now bypass the pump. This disables exhaust air injection and gulp valve function. EGR is still connected, but no telling if it still works without further investigation. Fuel vapor recovery and anti-run-on parts are still here (and most likely still work). The catalytic converter has been replaced by a through pipe. The original air cleaner and warm-air pickup parts have been replaced by a simple foam air cleaner.

First issue of concern was bad idle after warm-up, making it difficult to drive without stalling in traffic. That turned out to be a very simple idle speed adjustment, after which it ran well, followed by a short test drive with grins all around. Next problem was water in the passenger compartment with it rains, which was most likely resulting from a clogged drain tube in the air plenum.
Allison's Spitfire was parked under the drive-on hoist, so needed to be moved. The hoist? Ah yes, this makes Allison very popular with the local car club gang. Did I mention the air conditioned lounge?

We were under the MGB for a while using a coat hanger to clean composted dirt and leaves out of the air plenum drain valve. It needed a couple of tries to get all clear, but in the end water would drain through almost as fast at it could be poured into the cowl vent.

Next up was a loose door mirror that would wobble about and misalign itself with a bump or a breeze. This was an easy fix with one set screw to remove it from the door, tightening the tension screws underneath, and tightening the mountig plate while it was apart. Ditto for the mirror on the other side.

Then we were chasing elecrical gremlins, cleaning bulb sockets and replacing corroded and missing screws in the tail lights. In the end, all lamps and signals working.

The tough electrical problem for the day was "sluggish" horns, occasionally working but more often not. Test light and jumper wire soon revealed that the horns themself work well with good power and ground, so the problem would be in the wiring. Systematically cleaning connectors and tracing back to power source and under dash connections finally disclosed a dirty harness connector at the steering column.
The new harness was very good, but there was the older connector as part of the multi-function switch in the steering column that appeared to suffer ill effects of the prior fire. Plastic conector housing was partly melted, and the contact pins were corroded. An alligator clip was a useful tool for cleaning the shrouded connector pin. When we had good contact there, the horns still didn't work well, so on to testing and cleaning contacts at the steering wheel push switch. In the end the slip ring under the steering wheel seemed to have dirty and intermittent contact. The steering wheel would have to be removed for access to those parts, and it was getting late in the day, so that chore would have to wait for another opportunity. All in all, it was a very good tech day.

In the evening we had a special invite for dnner with Vance & Robin Young in NE Columbia, SC. There were a few more friends of the family there, a little chat about MGs, sorry no more pictures.

With some late night traveling, somewhere around midnight we were an hour northwest for the night.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Shuffling a bit farther on we stopped to sit on a WiFi spot most of the day near Simpsonville, SC. In the evening we moved on to Easley, SC, at a Fatz Cafe to "crash the party" with Foothills British Car Club. Sometimes we have to do this when there is no contact information on the club web site.

We lucked out and found a friendly reception (as usual). Once the room filled up we had about 40 people. It was a good meeting with an active club, a short presentation by the Guru, and a longer presentation by someone who built his own home built airplane (nothing about MG, but very interesting anyway). No new appointments here (yet), so after the meeting we pointed it southeast, and 90 miles on we were back in Columbia by late night.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Mid morning we were off to Abbotts Service Center near east end of Columbia, SC. We were here to meet Dave Daniel and his recently acquired MGA 1600 (temporarily here for some work). The interest was to appraise condition of the car to see what it may need to get it roadable. The muffler is mis-oriented, needs to be rotated some to get the muffler body way from the fuel tank. It will need some repair to extend one battery carrier tray to hold a single 12-volt battery. It already has a new fuel pump. The engine fired right up and only needed minor adjustment of the Weber carburetor, runs quite well.

Ignition light on, not charging. I disconnected the generator wires, jumpered the terminals together for a voltage test, and verified the generator is good. Reconnected to test the control box, the ignition lamp went out, and it was charging properly. Go figure, maybe just a loose wire terminal (I hate Lucar connectors).
The horn was not working, so up on the hoist to check out the horn circuits. `In this case, power and ground gets us nothing, so it is a very dead (beep-beep) road runner horn. Cheap, so toss it and buy something better. Power wire is good, but return ground to the dash button switch is a no-connect. This is likely to be only a disconnected wire under the dash something to check later.
After running 10 to 15 minutes total we found oil dripping from the right front inner fender aft of the wheel (very unusual). We then found oil puddling on the heater shelf, a result of a fractured steel pipe for the oil pressure gauge signal line (bummer). So no more running engine until that pipe is replaced (or plug the port so the pressure gauge does not work).
With more investigation we found a dead heater blower motor (likely failed carbon brushes), and a dead screenwiper motor (some internal connection or brushes). All rubber seals in the front suspension are perished (bunch of work there), although the suspension parts and steering gear seem to be in good condition otherwise. Rear axle not leaking (except for non-sealed threads on the pipe plugs). Clutch seems to work, brakes not working, hopefully just needing bleeding (but perhaps expect worse). Short on time now, but there is already a substantial work list to keep someone busy for a while. We may get back to this one later.
After more time on WiFi we wandered northeast 125 miles to Aberdeen, North Carolina (by the small hours of the morning).

Thursday, May 12, 2016
After email, BBS, and a few tech questions, I spend much of the day working on the Shops list (a seemingly never ending job). Then headed north again. About 25 miles short of destination, the plastic cooling fan tossed another blade and punctured the radiator again. Three or four stops for water at 5 to 8 mile intervals, and we got there only 20 minutes late. Will be looking for another radiator shop tomorrow morning.
We were here this evening to meet with North Carolina MG Car Club at one of their Natter 'n' Noggin. These rotate around between members' homes, and it can get a bit crowded with up to 40 people. Nice turn out of MGs in good weather, and quite a few more cars not in the picture. Give it an hour for dinner and social, then a bit of business meeting. By the time the party as over temperature was dropping along with lightning and thunder, so time to shuffle off.

Friday, May 13, 2016
We found a shop and pulled the radiator this morning, to be repaired this afternoon.

Prior breaks of plastic fans have been at the root of the blades (three of those). This one involves the flanged hub in two places on opposite sides. It is reasonable to guess that the first failed blade may have physically interfered and caused breakage of the second blade. I will be posting a tech page on this issue. For now I have posted photos and notes on the MG Experience BBS, and discussion is off to a lively start.
To the rescue, Dennis Taylor (president of NCMGCC) delivering the MGB fan donated by Casey Yunker (V.P. of NCMGCC), same as one I ran for many years prior. It is good to have friends. Steel fan immediately installed while retrieving the broken plastic fan for more close up pictures. And the nice bloke from North Raleigh Automotive & Radiator Service who did the sweet job repairing the damaged radiator.

Cleaned up radiator showing last month's repair at lower left, and the new repair at top center. Easy installation, fill with water, and we are on the road again.

Some close ups of the failed plastic fan. It really is a bit of a mess. We will be sending it back to Moss Motors along with lots of pictures. There does not appear to be any reinforcing fiber in the plastic. A local club member assures us that his original MGB plastic fan does have fiber fill, as shown when one of the blades touched a bolt on his air conditioning compressor.

Saturday, May 14, 2016
Triangle British Car Show in Raleigh, North Carolina today. Best guess, maybe 150 British cars, at least 16 MGA. Find more than 40 photos and notes in a following page.

Heading back to Columbia, SC tonight, having two appointments with MG T-types tomorrow.

Sunday, May 15, 2016
Busy day today, making like a split personality to be in two places at once. First up is a visit with Dave Daniel in Lexington, SC, who has nice MG TF in his home garage (with some problems). First it was running very rich, and was dribbling gas from the carburetors. Mixture nuts screwed all the way up, float levels checked, and needles dropped a smidge, but still running rich. Incorrect replacement air cleaners were plastered against the body panel, even though the thermal spacer blocks were deleted from between the carbs and manifold.

It was a real bear removing the front air cleaner without disassembling body panels. That one is not going back on the car again. One needle is correct part number, still a little rich. The other needle is wrong part number, still very rich. Both needles wobble about excessively in the jets when fully inserted, implying the jets are worn oversize at the top hole which is likely why both carbs run rich at idle speed. Put new needles and jets and thermal spacers and air cleaners on the parts order list. At least we can fix the drips and dribbles. The small white rings are one of my favorite tricks, Teflon O-rings used two-up to replace each of the small cork seals on the fuel jet. While reinstalling the carbs we ran into damaged (Whitworth) studs and nuts on the intake manifold, more parts for the order list. Then we had to set it aside temporarily while I was called for another appointment.

Then I was off for a while to visit an MG TD belonging to Ron Farkas in NE Columbia, SC. This one was more than a little forelorn and neglected. Purpose of the visit was to appraise the situation to see if it would be reasonable to expect to be able to "resurrect" the car for road use. At first glance, not very encouraging.

Paint was peeling off in sheets, engine with cylinder head off is likely frozen, water damage has plywood in the seat backrest in tatters. The car needs full restoration and it doesn't look easy. But every car has its stories. This one has been in the family for many years. His daughter who used to ride in the car when she was very young is now older and would like to have the car (running of course). This is one of the most compelling reasons to do the expensive and time consuming restoration. So the plan seems to be, get it running first which should give some encouragement, and then see how it goes from there.

Meanwhile, back to Lexington, and back to work on the TF. We got the carbs back together enough to take it for a little drive. Okay, a little longer drive (with a few grins along the way). Then investigating electrical issues. like a wiring harness with most of the jacket removed and wires all over the place, and extra fuses with suspect integrity, and lots of green wires used to splice and connect and replace other wires in half the harness (all one color) so you can't tell what wires go where. Headlights, front parking lights, brake lights and turn signals work, no tail lights or horn, and the lighting switch is shot. We spent some time making out a tentative order list, after which it was getting late and time to quit for the night. But over all it was a generally successful day.

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