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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Side trip today, about 55 miles from Statesville to King, NC. A daylight trip with no rush at all, so we told Mapquest to take the shortest route. 25 miles east down I-40 we turned northeast and ran 30 miles in 15 different side roads through the woods and hills (including a couple miles of gravel road), a very pleasant drive with top down on a nice warm cruising day.

We were in King to visit Richard O'Connor who is the proud owner of a 1980 MGB with just under 400 miles on the odometer. He likes to spit shine and polish the car to slightly better than new condition. He does drive it a little, has taken it to a few car shows, and it does not always win first place (even though it is all perfectly original). We dusted it off. used the jump starter box, gave it a shot of ether, and ultimately gave it some fresh fuel in the tank to get it running. Then we took it for a test drive about 10 feet outside the garage door, warmed it up well, and then put it back in the garage. I am not going to run an all day road rally in that car.

By evening we were back in Statesville on WiFi and late night we were a bit farther west in Hickory for the night.

Thursday, June 2, 2016
After spending most of the day on WiFi, we were off to Shelby, NC for a dinner meeting at Deer Brook Golf Course and Restaurant in Shelby, NC with Broad River European Motor Club. About 40 people here, reportedly a good turn out for this club. The Guru got to entertain the group with travel tales for a while, well received I recon. Several classic cars present were mostly British (although there were some other non-British European cars in the club to justify the club name). We were first in and last out, so I may have missed some of the cars. At least one red TR6 got away in a flash before I could get the picture.

After the meeting some WiFi time, then late night 60 miles west to Flat Rock, NC in preparation for next appointment.

Friday, June 3, 2016
Today we had a mid day meeting with John Sensor from Hendersonville, NC. He "used to have" an MGB which he bought new and drove until it dissolved in the Chicago area winter salt. These days he drives a Lotus 7 clone with a Honda motorcycle 1100-cc engine, turbo-charged with water injection intake cooler, red line at 11,000-rpm, about 240-hp (in case you can hang on to it long enough to try it out). Yes, you do need the shoulder harness. I declined the test drive this time.

Saturday, June 4, 2016
Today the Broad River European Motor Club has a "picnic at the pond" at the home of Curt & Missy Holland in Bessemer City, NC. Temperature of 90dF and bright sun made it a wonderful day for two dozen people to sit in the shade enjoying picnic lunch and chatting about the cars.

The MGB GT is a fresh restoration, still sporting a couple of zeros on the leading end of the odometer. Sluggish at low speed? Tech time. There was a quick switch to move the distributor vacuum connection from intake manifold to carburetor port, after which we expect it to run better.

Substantial WiFi time to finish posting the CMGC June newsletter on line, followed by 3-1/2 hour drive landing near Fayetteville, NC in the small hours of the morning (hang the rain, heat and humidity).

Sunday, June 5, 2016
Today we dropped in to visit Marian Inman in Hope Mills, NC (Fayetteville area). She recently inherited an MGA, along with a huge load of parts for lots of different classic cars, and about 40 years worth of memorabilia and collectibles (including a large technical library and thousands of magazines). The car has since been sold, but we were here to check out the other goodies to identify stuff and help decide what to do with it. Start with some pics of the collectible stuff.

I particularly like the Continental accessories catalog, including rally clocks and calculators.

How about pics of some of the car parts? And there is a lot more. It covers MG, Triumph, early Bently, BMW, lots of VW parts, and some vintage cars you may never hear about. To top it off, this was not a pro shop, just one guy collecting personal toys, and no idea where it all came from.

Yes those are U-haul boxes, the stuff can be measured in tons, and this is after two years of sorting, organizing, and having sold off some of it. There are over 6000 magazines from more the 140 different publishers.

Those may be MGA and TR3 carburetors, starters, generators, heater blowers. Once cataloged, most of this stuff will be up for sale. After some serious WiFi time, a late night 192 mile run north and west put us Hickory, NC.

Monday, June 6, 2016
Mid morning appointment today with John Merhar in Hickory, NC. Once we got past the Porsche Boxter S in the driveway, we found John working on his MG TD, installing new carpet and reinstalling seat belts. It is a clean machine, needing not much except to reinstall the seats. There were a few interesting spare parts, like a very vintage Mallory dual points distributor (with two piece HT cap), a generator with the rear tach drive, a new modern distributor, and an alternator considering a new home.

This car seems to have a documented racing history, and the checker flag grill dating back to photos in the 1950's.

The car needing help today was a 1978 MGB with lowered suspension, Weber carburetor, and an older repaint. This was his son's project car, but the project was stalled when no one could get it to run. It was reported that the previous owner also could not get it to run. It would start and run (barely), but would die when the key was returned to "RUN" position. This implies bad ballast resistor, or something related to that circuit.

A bit of diagnostic with a test light revealed a variety of problems around the ignition relay. Most of the terminals were badly corroded, had been overheated, and/or were wiggle loose with bad connections. I hate Lucar connectors, often more problems than bullet snap connectors. Poked with a test light, the (hot) brown wire fell out of the Lucar terminal. Cut and strip the wire and install a new female spade connector, scrape and clean the male terminals, bend tabs a bit to tighten the female connectors, and eventually we had the wires making good contact. Then the relay had an intermittent internal connection. Luckily there was a new relay handy, installed in short order, and then we had spark.

Once it would run it soon ran out of fuel. After adding a bit of gas it was running again, but would backfire with slightest acceleration, revealing a failed accelerator pump in the carburetor. Badly blackened carburetor primary throat implies it had been that way for some time. Note to order up an accelerator pump repair kit (cheap part). I may have to order a spare for my traveling parts inventory, as I have been encountering this problem a couple times per year (and I don't even like Weber carburetors). Then when revved up a bit it would run out of gas again, which turned out to be a kink in the rubber hose before the fuel filter. That fixed, it would run long enough for a quick tune up. No oil pressure (oops), but that was cured by putting some oil in the sump (duh).
Oil pressure gauge now working, it was time to fix the coolant temperature gauge. This turned out to be another corroded wire terminal on the temperature transducer (below the thermostat in the cylinder head). Then the fuel gauge was not working, leading to back it out of the car port and remove a rear wheel to test the fuel sender unit resistance and grounding the signal wire, but still no go. Final fix was to reconnect a power wire between the voltage stabilizer and the fuel gauge. Then the fuel gauge would move from nothing (against the "E" peg) to the middle of the "E", which is likely correct for having half a gallon of fuel in the tank. Grounding the signal terminal would drive the gauge to the "F" peg, so the gauge works. Finally drove it back into the car port and got the victory picture (big grin). Note to owner, put brake fluid in the master cylinder.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Our first visit today has not much to do with MG, except that Mark Ahlstrom works here. You might remember this one from May 30th. Mark's MGA is sometimes here, occasionally for service, otherwise just because he likes to drive it to work. The place is Carolina Industrial Equipment in Charlotte, NC. Let's do the MG pics first. The MG doesn't look like it belongs here, but how's this for a service shop? Think lift available, and on-staff technicians.

The technician apparently thought the MG may have been a bit of a joke on first site, but seemed to change his mind immediately with his first test drive. Now he likes tinkering with the car on occasion. Today's tech session began with a demonstration on how to quickly adjust valve clearance without using a feeler gauge. In the photo above right you may notice one of the Attwood 3000 bilge blowers mounted in a plumbing fitting in front of the carburetors. It works, but it takes up some valuable service space in that location. So we took a few minutes to do away with the plumbing fitting, wrap the blower with some foam rubber weather stripping, and tuck in inside of the air duct, entirely out of harm's way. Then I recon we may have spent another half hour chatting about service techniques and the charms of little British cars.

While here, we got a little tour of the place and some of the vehicles they sell and service. First up were the Segway "scooters". These things have evolved from big (adult size) to small (teen size) to tiny (little kid size), and also into super size. The three-wheel police version can cruise up to 25-mph, which is pretty brisk when you are standing up straight. On the larger end of the scale they have street sweepers and snow plows. In the middle they have a large variety of floor scrubbers and other factory service vehicles. Photo below right is a Vantage truck. In other countries it is a road going vehicle. In the USA is is not street legal so it is governor limited to 25-mph but carries a substantial load for commercial off-road use.

There are a bunch of people transporters. You might recognize a couple of these from some futuristic sci-fi movies, but they are indeed serious commercial vehicles. Enough fun, we out of here.

Then we were on a cross town trip through Charlotte which turned into parade pace for a while in hot weather. This almost got out of hand with coolant temperature creeping into the oil pressure range. Moral of the story is, keep your 7-psi pressure cap in place with 50/50 antifreeze solution, and it can tolerate up to 255dF operating temperature without crisis. When the temperature needle hits about 82-psi it runs out of mechanical travel, after which you can worry. Since changing from plastic fan back to steel fan, we should reinstall the fan shroud (until we can get an original V-cell radiator installed).

The destination was Jimmie's Restaurant in Mint Hill, NC (east edge of Charlotte) for meeting with Metrolina MG Car Club. By the time the place filled to capacity I counted 47 people, which may have been a record turnout for a club with 60-something memberships. Across the table with the shining smile was Dennise Thorpe, an early acquaintance (and prior MG 1100 owner) from the MGs e-mail list in the mid 90's.

I took a quick stroll around the car park to find about 20 British cars, mostly MGs, including a ZB Magnette (and one Porsche 911). The big gray thing in the middle may have been a Pontiac G8.

After the meeting there was an extended tire kicking session in the car park. After most of the cars had left, one MGA 1600-MK-II would not start. The owner had left the ignition switched on for a few hours, and the ignition coil had been fried. Oops. Not having a spare ignition coil handy, we arranged a bit of a shuffle. We borrowed the ignition coil from the Magnette to get the MGA running, then followed it a few miles home, retrieved the coil and returned it to the Magnette to get everyone home. Then we were off 110 miles down the expressways heading for Columbia, South Carolina before stopping for the night.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
This was to be maintenance day for the MGA. Leaf springs we had ordered a few weeks earlier had just arrived at the home of our good friend Dave Daniel in Lexington, SC, and we were determined to get them installed ASAP (as we were tired of hitting the rear bump stops with every dip in the road). We set the springs upside down on the floor to measure free height as received. Dimension from the top (on the floor) to top of the leaf cluster assembly (now underneath the arch) is ideally 5-1/16-inches (see leaf spring dimensions in tech article RS105). We measured this at 5-9/16, a half inch taller than spec. There are reasons why this may be bad, but for our car commonly fully laden with two heavy guys, a fully stuffed boot, a 17-pound trailer hitch, and a trailer with perhaps 40 pound tongue load, it may be okay. (I suppose I won't know for sure until I get a chance to go autocrossing again).
For reference I stood on the spring to measure partially compressed height with 220 pound load. This came to 4-1/16, or 1-1/2 compression, for spring rate of 147-lb/in, versus original spec of 125-lb/in. Again this may be bad (at least not so good), as higher spring rate will make the car sit higher under load. With design load of 450-lb the spring should deflect 3.6-in to be straight (flat) when fully loaded. With the higher spring rate 450-lb will deflect it only 3.06-in. This will leave it 0.54-in too high, to which we add the 1/2-in excess free height, so in assembly it would sit 1.04-in too high. This is exactly what other people have been reporting for years, sitting 1-inch too high. The proof is in the pudding, so let's give it a try.

Upon removing one of the original springs we gave it the same test for free height and deflection. Free height measured 4-9/16 (1/2-inch lower than spec). Partially compressed with 220-lb load brought it down to 2-3/8-in for 2-3/16 deflection or 100-lb/in spring rate. That was a surprise. No wonder the springs were sagging so badly. I suppose the reduced spring rate was due to wear making the leafs thinner. So 450-lb load would give deflection of 4.5-inches, or 0.9" excess defection, in addition to being 1/2-inch too low at free height. When upside down that would push the spring completely to the floor, or 1.4-inches too low ride height fully laden. So if the old springs rode 1.4" too low, and the new springs are expected to ride 1" too high, this may raise the rear end of the car 2.4-inches (or maybe 2.5" at the hitch ball).

A couple hours later it was all back together. Then some bad news. The new rebound straps I installed a few weeks earlier are garbage, worse than useless. Free length measures 9-inches center to center on the bolts. When the rear axle is allowed to drop the rebound straps stretch without limit. Stretched length measures 10-1/2-inches, and the only thing that stopped it there was end of travel in the shock absorbers, which is what the rebound straps are intended to prevent. Rebound straps are not supposed to stretch at all, or certainly not more than 1/4 inch under load of the axle weight and leaf spring preload. These straps when installed give the impression that they should get the job done, leaving the car owner with some confidence that all is well, when in fact damage to the rear shock absorbers is imminent. Another note to Moss Motors is due soon.

Jack under the axle to raise it until the frame lifts off the jack stands (loaded condition), then tighten bolts on the Silentblok bushings in forward spring eyes and the shackles at the rear spring eyes. The rubber parts that came out and were replaced didn't look too bad for being 18 years old with 200,000 miles. The better looking grommets were in the frame holes at top of the shackles, while the worse looking grommets were in the rear spring eyes. I would recommend poly bushings here.

Now that we had the rear of the car raised to about an inch higher than original stance, there was a small problem with height of the trailer hitch. It was time to remove the 1-3/8-inch stack of flat washers I had so diligently installed in October 2014. Below are before and after photos for the hitch height change, making the trailer sit level again.

The remaining problem now is worn bushings causing loose shafts in the rear shock absorbers. They no longer retain oil, so it will be time to order up replacement rear shocks. Meanwhile, navigator says bouncy rear end is a big improvement over bottoming out on every small dip in the pavement.

Also note to self, parking brake rubber boots are perished and the parking brake equalizer parts are a bit worn, so put those parts on the next to-order list.

Thursday, June 9, 2016
Today we were back at Dave Daniel's place to do some work for his MGA, mostly electrical work. Start by replacing a couple of light bulbs and cleaning socket contacts, getting all the external lamps to work. That front lamp should be bright zinc, not red painted, so consider replacing those and all of the rubber gaskets.

Then to replace the worn pushrod and clevis pin for the clutch slave cylinder. The DPO had welded an extension onto the pushrod, but the new one is correct length and works well. Give Dave a few minutes break and he will be cleaning the wire wheel spokes, a never ending chore.

Then we went after (attempted) repair of the pneumatic time delay trafficator switch which was shutting off immediately with no time delay. Out of the dash and disassembled reveals the issue as a leaky sucker washer, the leather lip piece not keeping a vacuum tight seal with the housing. Clean this up with a bit of mineral spirits, and apply a dab of silicone grease (or red brake grease). If the leather cup is still not making a seal, then cut a strip of thin card stock to insert behind the leather lip to make it bit thicker.

Use a small wad of cotton rolled into a ball to occupy bottom of the bleed hole where the adjustment screw seats, giving more coarse adjustment range for the time delay. When reassembled and working, the flashing rate was somewhat irregular, so put a new flasher unit on the order list.

Then we were after the wiper motor that would not run, even with power jumper wire and grounding on the terminal screws. This is one of those jobs where "Remove the wiper motor from the vehicle" is going to suck up at least half an hour, as you have to remove master cylinder pushrods, pedal excluder boot, cross bolt, and drop the pedals on the floor before the wiper motor can be disconnected from the drive pipe and pulled free. Inside I found the brushes to be in serviceable condition, but the commutator segments were a bit burned and in need of cleaning. The parking commutator also had intermittent contact,which was helped by bending the contact arm slightly upward, and cleaning the contacts. With the motor running and all back together, wipers work and park in the correct position.

Then we were after the heater blower motor that would not run, even with jumper wire and grounding. Another half hour disassembly chore to remove three screws in front for the inlet duct, then the collet nut to remove the fan, and three more screws in back for the motor (the bottom screws being a bear for access). I thought the motor was going to need new carbon brushes, but once it was out and cleaned up and spinning freely it would run again with electrical power. So bruise a few more knuckles putting it all back together again. And for the final fix we had to solder a wire back onto the blower switch.

After dark, off to a WiFI connection, then late night start hauling north up I-26.

Friday, June 10, 2016
Next morning found us back on WiFi in Spartanburg, still in South Carolina. Trying to arrange purchase of a pair of trailer tires for delivery in Louisville, KY, we stumbled on a dealer in Spartanburg just two miles away who had them in stock for very reasonable price. So off to the tire shop briefly, then a trip to Walmart for oil and antifreeze and a new steering wheel cover, then back to WiFi. While checking bulletin boards we found an evening classic car show in the streets of Hendersonville, NC, so we were off again in a flash. An hour later we were nursing the rig into a remaining tight spot on Main Street to spend a few hours among a couple hundred classic cars and what may have been more than 1000 people assembled for live music. Let's see about the British cars first. Sunbeam Tiger and the other MGA,

TR6, MG TD, AH Sprite,

MGB, Cobra, a pair of Deux Chevaux,

VW Truck and King Midget, a Kaiser Manhattan, and an electrified Alfa Romeo.

After the street show, off to WiFi for a while where a phone call set an appointment for next day, then heading north again up I-26, and west a bit on I-40, stopping higher in the mountains in Cherokee National Forest for the night, about 10 miles shy of the Tennessee border.

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Off early heading west, a stop for WiFi and lunch and fuel, then farther west to rural Sparta, Tennessee. We were here to visit Bob Myers and his wife. She lays claim to the MGB while he is restoring the MGA 1500.

After dinner and late night chat I have some quiet time to finally catch up with the photos and notes.

Sunday, June 12, 2016 Much of the day spent in leisure (very unusual) with the Myers. Late afternoon cruise west and north, landing on I-65 somewhere in Kentucky. Heading for MG2016 in Louisville this week.

Monday, June 13, 2016
This was destined to be an interesting day. As we pulled into the hotel parking lot, about to pick up my registration packet for MG2016, there was a distressed MGB in need of assistance, before we even got out of the car. Running badly on three cylinders? Easily fixed with a spare spark plug from my tool box. Then I was snapping pictures of MGA while walking toward the hotel, and whatever other cars might fall in the background. Count at least a dozen MGA in 100 feet, and there will be many more at this event.
In the hotel lobby an MG TC on display in racing form with Brooklands windscreens. Back in the car park, first spotting of a small trailer, and there will be more of these as well.

Having taken care of registration issues it was off to WiFi (and cooling) for a bit, followed by a short side trip to visit Jeremy Nelson. This is the son of Eric Nelson in Zionsville, Indiana. He has an MG Midget (under restoration) and a Triumph Spitfire (which may be in better condition but is also a distraction from the Midget project). More on these cars later.
In the evening I had an appointment for dinner with the Z Magnette Group of North America. I have been chasing this elusive bunch for two years, as they only get together once a year at the NAMGAR GT (although I had previously met several of these people individually). There were about 50 people here representing at least 15 ZA and ZB Magnettes that were registered for the show.
(More photos and notes at mg2016.htm)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Always some minor maintenance going on, and some interesting cars on hand. Time for the morning tech session on 5-Speed Gearbox for Post War MGs. Out with the old and in with the new, right before your eyes.
In between tech sessions, an MG TD in distress. Dead battery before arrival, jumper start to get it into the car park, battery charger for partial charge to get it going again. Problem here was a control box that had drifted out of adjustment leading to low voltage which would not keep up with power demand when running. Handy volt meter and a small adjustment for the regulator relay, and it's all smiles.
No time for the off-site tours, rally, funkhana, as I was busy attending tech sessions. These ran two in the morning, two in the afternoon, Tuesday and Wednesday, and still some schedule overlaps so had to miss a few tech sessions. Even if you skipped all of the tech sessions, there was no way to do all of the off-site tours in the same two days. Four different national MG registers all want their own things happening. If they want to squeeze this much stuff into one convention, they may need one more day for tech sessions, and two additional days for the non-tech events. In the brief interludes passing through the lobby to and from the quick snack lunches I bumped into some old friends an home town club members.
In the early evening there was a First Timers Reception (1 hour) which I was requested to attend (perhaps technical reference for the new folks). This was followed by four consecutive Register Night banquets in adjacent rooms (2 hours). Sorry if you belong to more than one of the national MG registers, can't be in two places at once. Then the partitions between banquet rooms were opened to combine all into a single gigantic room looking like an airplane hanger. For the next two hours we had live entertainment by Captain Rat and the Blind Rivets Band. Wow! Five hours in the banquet rooms without stepping out. And after 10-pm lots of folks headed for the Lounge to chat. That bunch in the photo below center is myself with some of the Australian world travelers.

(More photos and notes at mg2016.htm)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
After late night social, midnight email, short sleep, then early morning back to the main hotel. As usual, lots of interesting stuff in the car park. The topper canopy is a way to keep the MGA "less leaky in a heavy rain. There was the rare MGA 1600-MK-II "Deluxe, and an MGB V8 conversion with opera top and a serious looking trailer hitch (wonder what that tows).

There was a current issue Turbo-Z trailer, quite popular these days. I wish I had measured height of the duck tail spoiler to see if it might be too high for the dash mounted rear view mirror. The GT had the "oops" flat tire.
Morning tech sessions, "Why Did They Do That?", and "Originality of the MGB", followed by another walk in the car park. Hey, twin trailers; I wonder if they travel together?

Then a tap on the shoulder, followed by "Do you know anything about MGA windscreens"? Off to meet Murray Shantz from Unionville, Ontario, Canada. While packing stuff on his luggage rack a bungee cord got away like a slingshot and broke his windscreen glass. An order from Moss Motors brought a new glass to the hotel. A quick trip to Harbor Freight netted a few extra length screws and some web straps to assist holding the frame together during assembly, and we were well into reassembly.
At 5-pm we were off to the MG Experience BBS Meet and Greet in the hotel lounge. We retired to the patio for enough space to get the picture. How many noses can you count? At least 35 I recon, and I'm sure we missed some.

At 7-pm I was off to the NAMGAR local chapter contacts meeting. The 2-hour meeting stretched out to 3-hours for a few of us. A productive session I think.
(More photos and notes at mg2016.htm)

Thank you for your comments -- Send e-mail to <Barney Gaylord>
© 2016 Barney Gaylord -- Copyright and reprint information