The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (September 16 - September 30, 2016)
Friday, September 16, 2016:
Up early, hit the road, another 60 miles or so, breakfast at McDonalds in Rutland, Vermont. Here we hooked up with fragments of Berkshire British Motor Club and Adirondack Triumph Association for a caravan north, intended to be about 82 miles to Stowe, Vermont for the British Invasion car show. Some cars arrived a bit late, some did not launch immediately with the caravan. They said to follow the Mini, but the Mini didn't move, so we ended up following an Elva Courier (the cream colored thing up front).
A little pokey on side roads in traffic, about 50 miles up the road the Elva called a lunch break. Really? We just had breakfast. Let them stop. We turned it north and continued on solo, making better time. Soon we were muddling our way through Stowe, VT to find the show grounds and get registered for the British Invasion.
With registration done we had a few hours to spare before the evening welcome party, so we toddled off 10 miles north to Morrisonville. Mapquest says that's 37 miles from North Troy, VT, which is within a mile of the US-Canadian border. Better swap my MG hat for the US Border Patrol hat.
By 4:30pm we were back in Stowe for the welcome party. Hundreds of people here, and I don't recognize any of them. One person from a rally a couple weeks earlier recognized me and said hello. I finally found Richard Miller, director of MG Drivers Club of North America. I knew he had to be here somewhere, as this is their annual MG Drive-In.
Maybe better luck down town with a live band and the show cars parked in the streets. No joy here. Show street is full and barricaded, very long way to crawl around to get to other end of the street, and no parking anywhere within half a mile of the place. This is a little town, two lane streets, congestion, tourist trap with lots of antique shops, restaurants, and a few tiny hotels. I have no idea where many hundreds of British car enthusiasts will spend the night. Give up and go south 27 miles to Barre, VT to find another WiFi spot and the larger hotels.
Saturday, September 17, 2016:
Car show! The British Invasion in Stowe Vermont. Conflicting reports, something like 560 cars on the show field, possibly that many more cars in the visitors and "unregistered" lot, and pictures, pictures, pictures. To right of center, spectators, visitors, and non-registered cars. In the middle, large tents are car show central, registration and some vendors. Upper left, more vendors and the car corral (cars for sale). Left of center, the large field of show cars. Bottom center was the concourse judging circle.
Lots of British cars, lots of parts and service vendors, lots of friends.
Early in the day I was topping off oil in the front shocks on my MGA. Later I was trying to install a new tapping plate for the passenger side door latch striker, but no joy there. The replacement plate was too thick and too tall to fit in the slot in the door post. I don't want to blame it on the the vendor just yet, because some years ago I rebuilt the B-pillars including these plate pockets, and I may have made them smaller than original (to match thinner plates I made by hand).
As show cars were departing I lent a hand to clean spark plugs on a Morgan Sport and install a make shift fuel pump on a TVR 1500 to get them running. Then a quick trip with a few friends to a local bistro for dinner before a short shot on WiFi and crash for the night.
See LOTS MORE photos and notes from this event in a following page.
Sunday, September 18, 2016:
This would be a simpler and easier day. As we were approaching the show grounds we saw many British cars going the other way, escaping to go home on Sunday morning. When all were assembled on the show field there were maybe 25% of the prior days cars present today. The idea today was to park the cars in groups by color, to be voted for best car of each color. Not being a concours type, I seldom bother to vote, figuring I have better things to do with my time. But I did find some friends to chat.
An early task today was a minor adjustment for a control box on an MGA to correct a low voltage condition that was causing low battery when running with lights or accessories. Easy peasy and I hope negates the need for the owner to buy a new battery.
After a couple of wide angle shots of the overall field, if struck me that the show had lost some color, like a world of gray scale images. But at least we get another look as some of the prior day's display cars.
Well, at least there were red cars to save the day, and the "rainbow" class for multi-color and stripes.
A bit down the road later we stopped to assist a late model (rubber bumper) MGB in distress, dead on an upgrade,
half in the traffic lane with no safety shoulder. Poking a few wires got it running long enough to get up the hill when it died again but managed to pull off to a safe area. Some probing with a test light narrowed the disconnect in the white wire down to the ignition switch or the multi-function cable connector near the ignition switch. I installed a jumper wire to the ignition coil to assure reliable running, and sent him on his way. I received an email report later saying the fault was a loose pin in the connector near the ignition switch, easily repaired in the local motel car park, and that the car was able to return home to Canada without further incident.
See more photos and notes from this event in a following page.
Monday, September 19, 2016:
Today we were a few hours west to visit Richard Kinsey in DeWitt, NY. He has a nice MGA 1600-MK-II with a 1972-1974 MGB “L” head and HS4 carburetors. The "L" head has small combustion chambers (38cc) which when
combined with the standard flat top pistons of the 1622 engine makes for very high compression test readings (like 180+ psi). This one runs on premium fuel only, and the carbs were so far out of whack that it would hardly run at all.
There was a spare set of carbs on the work bench having the main jets drip fuel, one gland nut was loose so the lower jet bearing turned with the mixture nut making mixture adjustment impossible, and the choke was sticking (main jets in lowered position). After some diagnostic work, the rest was just grunt work to polish the jets, install new jet seals, center the jets, tighten the gland nut and adjust linkages. Those carbs may be ready to install (but will be retained as spares).
Then we got after the car that was not feeling well. The carbs here were structurally sound, but in need
of lots of adjustments. Choke cable adjustment was first, followed by throttle cable and fast idle cams. Fuel mixture was full lean (the root of bad running), but not hard to correct shut one carb and tune the other, then vice versa. Air flow balance came next, resulting in nice idle and smooth power output. Score one for the good guys.
Richard has a couple more toys in the garage, a 1923 Ford Model T Speedster, and a 1922 Ford Model T Fireman's Coupe. They seem to run well, and I'm sure he knows more about those than I would.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016:
Shuffle off a couple more hours west to Williamsville, NY (Buffalo area) to visit British Car Club of Western New York. Arriving a bit early we found a single TR6 in the car park. A bit later there would be at least one Jag E-type and a new Mini, and maybe some more we didn't see. By end of dinner there were close to 40 club members crammed into the formal club meeting. We made a few new friends, but no one requested assistance with cars. So immediately after the meeting we were heading back east for a run at full length of the state of New York (about 6 hours on the fly).
Wednesday, September 21, 2016:
Made it a bit more than half way before stopping late last night. Today running in the morning, enjoying some altitude in the Appalachian Mountains, sometimes looking down on the clouds, other times looking up at the hills. We even had a few hours to spare for WiFi work (which was woefully lagging). Evening found us at ABC Pizza in New Windsor, New York (which was mildly amusing as I was raised in New Windsor, Illinois). this time we found a few Brits in the car park when we arrived.
Indoors we ultimately collected about 30 avid British car enthusiasts for dinner and meeting with Brits of the Hudson, Ltd. The guru was called upon to do a few minutes about our travels and purpose, and to answer a few tech questions. By end of evening we collected a few appointments to help with some cars, but those will have to wait for a few days as we have some prior commitments.
Thursday, September 22, 2016:
Today we dropped in to visit Raymond Schwarz in South Nyack, NY. I hadn't seen this fellow for nearly 20 years so it was a nice reunion. Then he pulled out a picture that nearly floored me, a photo taken on November 2, 1996, when I had made a week end trip from Illinois to New York for autocross with Eastern New York MGA Club. It's just weird to suddenly turn the clock back 20 years.
Ray has a very nice MGA 1600-MK-II "Deluxe" that he bought new in Germany in 1962 (more recently restored). He still has all of the original paperwork including bill of sale and the six original dealer documents that came with the car. The "Disc Brakes" option cost $125 at the time, which was 6% of the base sticker price of the car. Ray also has photographic art work needed to reproduce the German version of the Car No plate, with spaces to stamp front and rear axle weight and total gross vehicle weight.
Friday, September 23, 2016:
Ray has a large collection of memorabilia, including a large framed picture of his "Deluxe" when it was new in Germany still wearing the military license plates. I got good shot of the original German style Car No. plate and engine number plate. Apparently at the time the engine number plate was stamped they hadn't decided if it would be a high or low compression engine, and the "H" appears to have been stamped from the front later on.
Then we were off across town to visit his son's place and check out a pair of MGB. Both cars run, but the GT is in for body sill repairs. I think they intend to transfer the dual SU carburetor setup from the GT to the later model rubber bumper car to get rid of the single Z/S carb and catalytic converter. Son was not home today, so we may return to this later.
Saturday, September 24, 2016:
Today we were off to visit Ray's off-site basement workshop. This is normally a wood working shop where he does custom cabinet work, but it also doubles a the body work and paint shop for his second MGA project. There is no garage door here, so the trick was a few friends tip the body and frame on edge and walk them through the pedestrian passa ge door. When finished they will go back out the same way to be reassembled in his home garage. A special note here is the permanent riveted shims installed by the factory to square up the frame mount for the steering rack.
Everything underneath gets sand basted and painted. Brushed on Rustoleum primer does a nice job, and there is a paint room with filters and vents for spraying.
Next point of interest is the factory installed brackets for seat belt shoulder belt attachment points. This may interest anyone who wants to install these parts on earlier cars, needing to know the proper position.
Lots of small parts cleaned and ready to reinstall. Wondering if I can identify the brake light pressure switches by the stamped numbers. Everything in the last picture looks like new brake and hydraulic parts. We spent some time identifying parts. In some cases we found enough parts for three or four cars, but I don't think he will be buying more cars just to use the spare parts.
Sunday, September 25, 2016:
Finally half a day to catch up some overdue WiFi work, like a couple days of trip log photos and notes and finishing converting the home club newsletter for web pages. A little time ID'ing and inventorying more boxes of car parts, but then we high tailed it out in the direction of next day's appointment.
Monday, September 26, 2016:
Now a trip to visit Richard Gordon in Putnam Valley, NY. He has an MGA that runs (sort of), but has a tough time negotiating some steep hills around his home. A little time spent adjusting the carburetors paid off big time, as witnessed by the big grin after a test run through the hills. He also has an Austin Healey 3000 that was running very rich. A little time tweaking the carbs worked wonders for that one too. Then we were off to find another WiFi connection, and work on the monthly trip report for the home club newsletter.
Later in the evening a prior acquaintance, Steve Trovato from Putnam Valley, NY (and a member of Eastern New York MGA Club) happen to wander into our WiFi spot, which effectively killed a few hours of WiFi time, setting the monthly trip report back some more. We last saw Steve at the MG2016 convention in Louisville, Kentucky, where we were both sitting in at the NAMGAR local chapter contacts meeting. We may have an appointment to visit him again later.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016:
No appointments, but lots of catch up work, like making a hard drive data backup, and plans for next day. We did have a walk-in. Bruce MacInnes of MacInnes Motorsports, Senior Instructor for Skip Barber Racing School, dropped in to say hello. Nice short chat, all very busy, but got his card and may see him again later.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016:
This afternoon a visit to Custom Spares Ltd (Stuart Arbeit) in Brewster, NY. CSL supplies parts for classic cars, 1945 through 1985. What first looks like a store front in a strip mall turns out to be quite large inside with 28,000 square feet upstairs, downstairs, and in a couple of outlying warehouses.
In this location for 15 years, the place is stuffed to the gunnels new parts, old parts, new-old-stock parts, and some parts he has special manufactured. For example, he has reproduced Lucas PL100 headlamps which I think may be the first good quality units see in many years. He also has new repro Cibie head lamps made to very good standards with the CS trade mark included. And then, "parts are us". You need it, they probably got it.
In the evening we were in Putnam Valley, NY to visit Steve Trovato (another contact with Eastern New York MGA Club). I'm thinking there may be something magic about the two car garage, as once we stepped inside there were at least seven cars in there. Start with a MG ZA Magnette which is a well patinaed original type daily driver car, and a SUV (to be named later). Then a driver Miata and Ford T.
The Tyrolite Green MGA was father-in-law's car, which Steve's wife has been riding in since childhood (now being restored). Another MGA, complete but needing much attention (standing in the queue), wearing the Smoothline hardtop from the other car. Tucked back into the far corner, a Jaguar E-type which may some day be looking for a new home (with a better chance of getting refurbished). These cars are not in need of any immediate attention, so a nice visit turned into late night chat.
Thursday, September 29, 2016:
Mid morning run for breakfast, really just a good excuse for a short cruise in the ZA Magnette. Yes I was on the passenger's side, as this is a right hand drive British specification car, only the second one I have seen with trafficators. Otherwise mostly a day of leisure (very rare these days), lots of chat about cars and clubs, era of the "dinosaurs", and even time for an evening movie. Really?
Friday, September 30, 2016:
Dropped in on Scarborough Faire today in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. I was rather surprised to find the front door locked, and a sign saying they no longer allow walk-in parts orders. They will take a phone order and hold it for pick up, just ring the door bell when you get there. Inside they are very proud of their new MGA 1500 type grille, and the rest of the place is stuffed to the gunnels with tons of MGA replacement parts.
If the main floor wasn't enough, the lower level (full basement) was equally stuffed.
Out back some very useful parts cars and a few semi truck trailers for more storage, and another off-site warehouse for cars and more overflow parts. Love the wide screen (doube screen) computer. Notice the "proper red" leather for MGA seats and cockpit trim rolls.