The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (January 16 - January 31, 2017)

Monday, January 16, 2017:
Sitting in Punta Gorda today, spent some time looking for part numbers and spec's for a brake light pressure switch for a Volvo P1800. As much as we appreciate these cars for being British origin, I was feeling a bit out of my element here. After considerable research I found early P1800 with manual brakes used a switch with straight threads and a copper sealing washer. When the car had a power brake servo it used a different pressure switch likely with tapered pipe thread. But the switch I was looking for had a straight thread and bullet nose like a brake pipe or bleed nipple fitting, no sealing washer. Not having the switch in hand, I didn't know the thread type. There was a Lucas part number 345478 stamped on the switch, but alas I cannot find a Lucas parts list showing this part, and a web search comes up blank. After lots of frustration and dead ends I have to send the owner off to join a Volvo bulletin board to ask more experienced people.

Addendum January 23, 2017: Found out the switch part number was wrong and should be 34547B. Time to search again, but still not found in a web search. Bummer.

Addendum February 2, 2017: Sheri Lowe wrote: "Here's the latest, found on eBay": Lucas SPB401 brake light switch, thread 3/8" x 24 UNF, operating pressure 1.36-5.44 bar (20-80 psi), supersedes/replaces Lucas 34446, 34547, 34619, 54033285, 54033360, Intermotor 51610, Aston Martin 048370151, Calorstat by Vernet BS4510, EPS 1.810.099, EPS 1.820.001, Jaguar DAC 3719, Rover 21B 291L. Applications include Aston Martin Sunbeam (all models). Also apparently some Volvo P1800 with power brakes. However, this one does not appear to have the bullet nose so it may require a copper washer for sealing.

About mid day we had a walk in. Two ladies introduced themselves, having recognized the MGA in the car park. They had been in Georgia, now in the 11th hour of an 11 hour trip back home to Bonita Springs, FL (home of Tech Central). Say hello to Mrs. Jerry Wilcox (sorry I didn't remember her first name). So I'm getting used to the idea of being a bit of a celebrity.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017:
Having a special challenge today. I spent the entire day with a little research and posting a new web page on the Lucas DR3 2-speed wiper motor and its electrical hook-up. Interest here stems from the fact that it is a dead ringer for the MGA single speed unit, and is physically interchangeable, giving the possibility of installing faster 2-speed wipers in the MGA with little or no physical modifications required. There are at least two different models of the DR3 motor. The earlier one does what you expect, runs with two different speeds and parks by stopping in the appropriate park position. The second one is a little more mysterious, as it wipes the desired area on the windscreen, but when it parks it drops the wiper blades to a lower position for parking. It does this with a nifty little eccentric cam on the crank pin that changes position when the motor runs in reverse, and a special switch and wiring set-up the reverses polarity of the field coil winding to make it run backward for the parking function.
There are a few different switches that would work for this, a 3-position rotary switch used in the Jaguar MK2 (with 13 terminals), another 3-position rotary switch (PRS5) with six terminals, and a 3-position toggle switch (79SA) with six terminals, used on the Jaguar XK120 and XK140 cars(and maybe some other applications I haven't found yet). As none of those switches look native to the MGA, I now have another future task to devise a relay logic circuit to be triggered using an MGA 3-position lighting switch. Job for another day.
Late night we moved an hour farther north in anticipation of a possible appointment.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017:
Up early with a phone call as the anticipated appointment is confirmed, and we are extremely close in Brooksville, FL. Meet Jean-Marie and François Gay from Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada. This is the second time we have met these "wild and crazy" guys in Florida. Last January's greeting resulted in François donating part of a left front fender that was used for rust repair in my car (last April). François has also finished restoration of his MGA since last visit and is enjoying the drive immensely.

And we had another walk-in today, a local bloke who remembered the car (with trailer) from last years club meeting in Brooksville, FL (which incidentally is where we were scheduled to be later this evening).

Then we got a message from Dr. Robert C. Pelot in Ellenton, FL, which by coincidence is just across a bridge to the north. He has an MGB with a rod knock (needing some attention), and a spare MGA engine and gearbox. A phone call finds him busy today, which is just as well when we are short on time. We put him on the planning list for next week.

Mid afternoon we were heading north in I-75 for what should have been a 1-hr 50- minute shot up the expressway, but turned out to be a difficult 2-hr 40-min shuffle with two detours caused by traffic congestion. Just after 6-pm we arrived at Buffett City in Brooksville, FL, almost on time, same time and place as last year, for a meeting with Nature Coast English Car Club / Sun Coast Classic MG Club (the club with two names). After a half hour wait when no one showed up, we made a phone call, which revealed that the meeting had been cancelled (rescheduled for a week later). It happens sometimes, not a problem, but we were a bit PO'd because the club web site didn't note the change of schedule. This has to result in a note on my Clubs links list noting to call to confirm before going there, as the web site cannot be relied on for current information.

So we had some time for more WiFi work. Then late night we headed east for 90 mile drive to Orlando. This is way easier traveling at night with minimal traffic.

Thursday, January 19, 2017:
Yes we made Orlando before snooze time. Up early, catching up photos and notes for past three days, and a passel of email. More stuff on the DR3 2-speed wiper motor tech page, and a bit more searching for the Volvo P1800 odd brake switch.

In the evening we were off to a dinner meeting with Classic MG Club of Orlando. We met these folks for Tour of the Lights in Dec 2015, and a club meeting in January 2016 (different location). Count 21 people here tonight, most of whom had at least heard of us before. We ordered dinner before the meeting, which may have been odd, and many others ordered dinner after the meeting. End result was perhaps the first time in this trip when we excused ourselves and were early outs around 8:30-pm.

From there we hopped on I-4 west (75 miles), then I-75 south (41 miles), landing (momentarily) in Bradenton, FL (where we were yesterday morning, about 400 miles back). We stopped here 10:30-pm to take advantage of a 24-hour WiFi spot. After due diligence, we will head south another 90 miles to be near tomorrow's appointment.

Friday, January 20, 2017:
Several days on we are back at Tech Central in Bonita Springs, mid morning, intent on reassembling the MGB 4-synchro gearbox we took apart a week earlier. As usual, nothing is easy, so one problem at at time. First issue was a new clutch release bearing that was too wide across the shoulders and would not fit into the release arm. The expedient "bodge" to make it fit was to file off the inboard sides of the release arm cradles. Man, I hate bastardizing a perfectly good part to accommodate a faulty replacement part. If they ever install another release bearing with correct dimensions, they may have to replace the now bodged up release arm.

Next issue was a new release arm pivot bolt that was too long on the shoulder length, so when installed it left the bolt loose to rattle around in the carrier. No good to leave it that way as it would eventually wear out the holes in the aluminum front cover. Solution here was to reinstall the original bolt that was correct length (and fortunately in good condition). Pretty sure both the "POWERTUNE" clutch release bearing and the too-long pivot bolt came from Moss Motors. I hope someone will report these faulty replacement parts to the supplier.

Sneaking up on mid day, we took a short break to watch the inauguration of our new President. Then a barbecue lunch included a novelty cake before we got back to work. Not long to reassemble the gearbox mainshaft with new synchronizer rings. One of the guys announced they had the layshaft back in the box with a thin rod through to hold the thrust washers in place. In short order we had the input shaft and main shaft installed, but then struggling to install the layshaft when it dawned on us that the laygear thrust washers were swapped with the larger one at the small end of the gear, preventing installation of the shaft. Bummer, but once know it was not long to make the swap. But then more troubles.

For some unknown reason the laygear could not nestle up close enough to the mainshaft, missing by very little, maybe 0.010-inch or so, but still preventing installation of the layshaft. We took things apart and reassembled a few times in various sequence, but no joy, no go. This makes no sense at all. These are all the same parts that came out, with only two synchro rings having been changed, so no reason why it shouldn't go back together. This killed a few hours with high levels of frustration. Late afternoon a few people had to knock off due to other commitments, so the project came to a halt without resolution. Grrrr. I hate this feeling. Failure is not an option. I think we will sleep on it, and return tomorrow for another shot at the bewitched beast.

Saturday, January 21, 2017:
Back at Tech Central today. There were supposed to be some folks from the local sports car club, younger racer types, but they didn't show. One MGB had an alternator failure, another car had an accident, so all in all they decided to reschedule tech day for a week later. That left plenty of work space and very little distraction. Jerry and a couple of friends were busy trying to fire up an RX7 race car, while the gearbox owner and I took another look at the bewitched MGB gearbox.
It didn't take long to figure out what was wrong the day before. The two shifter sliding hubs have slightly different outside diameter, and they were in wrong position on the mainshaft, resulting in the slightly larger one interfering with the small straight tooth gear on the layshaft cluster gear. We can blame this issue on one of the service manuals showing the sliding hub with narrow groove in the wrong position in the explosion drawing. But I recon I will never make that mistake again. Compare photo below right with photo center above.

So back to the bench, unlock the locktab on the mainshaft front nut, unscrew the nut, remove half the parts from the mainshaft, swap the sliding hubs, and put it all back together lickety split, no problem. In short order, laygear in bottom of the box with small guide rod to hold thrust washers in place, input shaft stuffed in the front (with spigot bearing in place), and mainshaft assembly stuffed into rear. Stand the assembly on its nose long enough to center up the laygear and thrust washers, insert the layshaft, and set it back level again. Then reverse gear with shaft and locking bolt in place. Follow this with three shift forks, shift rode, and locking screws.

I installed the front cover temporarily with two nuts to retain the input shaft before pushing the rear housing into place. Then the shift rod indexing detent plungers, springs and plug bolts.

Then a little "oops", missing the woodruff key for the speedometer drive gear (don't know if it was there when disassembled). No key found in the magic trailer this time, so a short run to an auto parts store for a few woodruff keys before proceeding.
The long spacer tube will hold the speedo gear in place, as well as the center roller bearing and oil pump spool/spacer. Two shims in back prior to the rear ball bearing to have proper fore/aft alignment of the mainshaft. Shove the rear housing into place, including the rear ball bearing held in with snap ring, with some physical encouragement and bolt tightening to the main case. Insert a new rear seal, and then another odd problem when the output yoke would only go half way in (even with a hammer). Huh? This turned out to be caused by a sharp burr half way along the crest of a spline inside the rear flange splines. Grrrr. That may be the reason it was so hard to disassemble the week before. A few minutes with a small file took care of that problem, and the rear flange was soon tapped into place. And then the next issue (always another problem looming).
There is a special locktab washer before the large rear nut. This washer has the spline shaped fingers inside to lock into the female splines in the rear hub. I suppose the splined fingers should be bent down, but in this case they were nearly flat, and no way this thing was going over the threaded shaft. A few minutes with a narrow nose Vice-Grip bent them down about 45 degrees, after which it went together as intended. Install rear nut, torque it up, and bend up the locktab.

Next up, the speedometer driven gear spindle seal, which is very important because it resides below oil lever in the gearbox. Fun getting the old one out with a bent screwdriver, easy pushing the new one in, and a few minutes later the speedo drive was installed.

Nearly finished. Install the shift selector interlock (so you can't catch two gears at once), leave the shift extension off (to be installed after in the car), install the side cover, and leave a note to R&R the front cover to add the required shims for the input bearing outer race. Pity we hadn't measured this to determine that shims were missing last week. Now they need another parts order for the shims before it can be returned to the car. Last photo is the half worn 2nd gear synchro ring removed (headed for the dust bin). No one could find the removed broken 3rd gear synchro ring for a picture today, but there is a picture of it on prior page from Jnuary 14.

What a difference a day makes. This one was much more satisfying than the frustrating day before. All is well that ends well. When you finally figure out what the problem is, it always turns out to be something simple. Had a nice relaxing chat in the warm evening before heading for a WiFi spot to bring you these notes.

Sunday, January 22, 2017:
No appointments, so we didn't go far, sitting in Fort Myers for a day. Early morning, just out of the car and we had a walk-up. A young couple with first interest in the small trailer ("Where can we get one"?), but soon attracted to the MGA in a big way. A bit short on time, but they wanted the web site address, so we may have another next generation enthusiast (or two).
Then I was fielding a message from a friend about a "rogue" MGA listed for sale by a dealer with a Car Number that happens to be the same as a number plate with a picture on my web site (not my car and not my number plate). The car looks like a 1500 chassis with a 1500 Coupe body sitting on it, offered as a 1960 model with the Car Number of a 1960 roadster, and professing to have a clear title available with this chassis number. I sent the seller an innocent sounding message inquiring about the data mismatch, and the fact that I have a photo of the number plate. Not expecting to get a response, but curious to see if the sale listing might change or disappear. Within a few minutes the ad was changed to delete the Car Number and to say, "This is a parts car only no title and no VIN plate". I have a gut feeling he does not have a title with that VIN number on it (and the professed chassis number may have been lifted from my web site).
Then I had to compose and send off a monthly trip report for the newsletter of the Chicagoland MG Club, which killed a bunch of time. So much for the day off.

Monday, January 23, 2017:
We had migrated northward a bit (90 miles) to Bradenton, FL. Today I whipped up a new tech page on what happens when you mix different brake fluids with water and with each other. Photos of the mixed fluids included, interesting reading, not pleasant stuff, and not a recommended procedure. I also did a tech page update on the MGA rear wheel hub variations, and a better drawing of the paper gasket. Also another page update on crankshaft oil flow restrictors.
We were about to head north one exit in search of a more function WiFi connection when we were momentarily distracted. There was a "good Samaratan" type guy with a dead pickup truck after he had offered a jump start to a stranger, and the stranger hooked the jumper cables up backward. Boo, hiss. Unfortunately nothing I could do to revive the modern vehicle with some seriously failed electronic bits.
Then sitting in Ellenton, FL where we were supposed to meet someone today, but "something came up", and that has been delayed for a day. I ended up writing most of a new tech article on adjustable steering column clamp and steering wheel alignment, which should begin with some attention to assembly orientation of the steering rack parts. As it turns out, apparently the factory left the upper steering column orientation to be random. That figures. No sense spending factory time with minor details that don't make the car go. But this is then one detail that concours enthusiasts can argue until they are blue in the face, all to no avail. I like it.
Now sitting way past midnight to finish these notes for the past couple of days. Good night all. Zzzzzz.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017:
We had a short interruption of WiFi work today for a "local" visit. Say hello to Dr. Robert C. Pelot (not M.D.) in Ellenton, FL. He has an MGB with a "slight" problem, like it had a serious rod knock. Photo of the rod bearings shows #1 not bad, #2 with all white metal and half the copper gone, and #3 worn completely through to the steel backing (oops). Without even looking at the crankshaft, I had to tell him the engine has to come out to remove the crankshaft. It was previously ground -0.030, so he may need a new one. The good news is, he was given a spare engine, so maybe this won't be too expensive.

Late night, heading north again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017:
In light of the fact that the reversing-to-park DR3 wiper motor has interference fit with the MGA inner fender, there was an attempt to mate the earlier DR3 gearbox to the later motor body. That fits, but the longer shaft of the later motor is too long to fit in the early gearbox. And the early armature does not work with the later field coil due to different winding pattern in the armatures (and large difference in field resistance), so it does not run electrically. Too bad, no mix and match allowed. This may be a good application for the big hammer. A large enough dent in the MGA inner fender might allow installation of the later DR3 wiper motor (but might call for repaint afterward).

Also had some questions about a magnetic fuel gauge for Triumph TR3 (similar to MGA fuel gauge). Resistance readings checked out okay, but it didn't move under power This turned out to be some corrosion inside, so cleaning and oiling got it working again.

We made our way up to Brooksville, FL today. Had an evening dinner meeting with Nature Coast English Car Club/Sun Coast Classic MG Club (the club with two names), the meeting we missed a week earlier because they rescheduled it. After some tire kicking, just a buffet dinner with 20 club members (then back to work).

Thursday, January 26, 2017:
Spent too much time today discussing why rolling circumference of a car tire is notably less than the outside circumference of the tire. Also test data shows that large chages in air pressure and tread deflection and load, have very little effect on rolling circumference. And the final kicker, difference in outside diameter between new tire and worn out tire is a 2%, but rolling circumference is only 1% less. I think I have the answer. My theory is that rolling distance is directly related to length of the reinforcing belt, which does not change much with all the other variables. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. But debate is killing a lot of time.

Friday, January 27, 2017:
Back to Tech Central today with lots of activity. The TR3 was in for a tune up.

The yellow Midget was having the catalytic converter replaced with a pipe, carburetor reinstalled and tuned up. It's a bear of a job reinstalling the bottom nut for carb mounting. Where's ten year old kid when you need him? They already had a wrench cut down to get in there. I ground the sides off of it to make it narrower for easier access. For final tightening a thin wall box wrench got in there a half flat at a time.

The white Midget was getting final touches to put it back on the road (after 30 years in hibernation and some restoration work). Seems like the Z-S carbs on the Spitfire 1500 engines are a constant problem.

The white TD was getting new rear brakes, and I got to put the beehive springs back on that one. The VW race car came out of the trailer for a bit of underbody work in preparation for the track in a couple of weeks.

The guys were stuffing the rebuilt 4-synco gearbox back into the MGB. Before I arrived they had reinstalled the front cover without the proper shims. Someone suggested it was running like that before it came our of the car, so no harm done? Grrrr. At least it got all new clutch parts. After two weeks of noting that the cooling fan was backward, I recon no one was going to bother, so I turned it around before they could stuff it back in the car. By day's end it was driven away.

I spent much of the day finishing reassembly of the MGB 5-main engine. Getting the head on, progress was hindered `by continuing hunt for missing fasteners (too long disassembled and things were lost). We retrieved several thick washers from another spare engine. I pulled all of the required valve cover hardware out of my magic trailer. But the most irritating issue was that cam timing was way out of whack due to a misplaced punch mark on the cam drive sprocket (manufacturing defect). Good thing I was checking this before it was installed in a car. Not too much work to pull off the crank pulley, timing cover, chain tensioner, and the timing chain and sprockets. Setting proper cam timing only took a few minutes. Then did the right thing by putting two punch marks in the right positions 180 degrees apart, and scratch a big "X" across the incorrect punch mark. Never depend on the punch marks being in the right place. Putting it back together was standard grunt work. Got the covers installed before we lost the light. Still needs the distributor drive gear to be realigned, valve adjustment, plus cleaning and painting.

Saturday, January 28, 2017:
All quiet at Tech Central, no visitors today, so we elected to move on and get caught up with some WiFi work. Ground up most of the day transcribing and posting the February issue of CMGC newsletter on the club web site. Sometime after dark we moved an hour farther north in anticipation of next appointment. Spent most of the day in Brooksville, then another hour north late night.

Sunday, January 29, 2017:
Parked momentarily in Ocala for email check. Sunday appointment fell through, might be rescheduled later. More discussion about rolling circumference of tires (this one won't give up). Some discussion on the merits of under bonnet insulation, waste of weight on a Roadster, luxury option on a Tourer. Foam rubber is flammable,maybe not such a good idea. Look for heat resistant and fire retardant material, perhaps fiberglass and foil. Late night pushed on a bit farther north to Starke, FL for the night.

Monday, January 30, 2017:
Heading into Jacksonville today. Wish us luck. One WiFi spot with dead WiFi, three more with no power outlet, finally lucked out on the fifth (last available) stop on east side of the St Johns River, south side of Jacksonville. I still hate big cities.
In the evening we had a dinner meeting with MG Classics of Jacksonville with at least 45 people present. Been here a year earlier, but lots of new faces in the room tonight. One notable character being Bill Cullen from Ponte Vedra, FL, who has a 1962 MGA (restored), in family since new. Timing was not good today, so I will have to make another date to check out his car.

Had a call earlier in the day for help in Fruitland, FL. No imminent appoints in Jacksonville, so heading south (out of town) on I-95 after the club meeting. 40 miles is enough, crash near Hastings for the night. Zzzzzz.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017:
We popped up early and put a little husyle on to run for a visit with George Horton in Fruitland Park, FL. He has (hopefully) sold his house and was supposed to be out today. Some small temporary technical hang-up we think, but he has already pretty much vacated the place. The MGB (daily driver car) is to be moved to a friend's place, while the MGA Coupe needs to be trucked north to the new home in Pennsylvania. Problem today is the MGA won't start, and it has to run to be transported.

There was fuel in the float chambers, it cranked over okay, and a shot of starting fluid did not make it run. Other side of the engine quickly revealed a very weak spark, must be bad condenser. My magic trailer was all out of Lucas condensers (odd, need to order more). I did have a spare Mallory condenser, but it is larger and does not fit inside the Lucas distributor. Easy solution. Remove bad condenser from the distributor, scrape paint off of the coil mount bracket, clamp the Mallory condenser on with a small locking pliers for ground connection, and connect the lead wire to the coil terminal leading to the distributor. It fired right up, score one for the good guys. In process of adjusting the carbs we found a fuel leak at the rear banjo fitting. Tightening the banjo bolt didn't help. A new pair of fiber washers should fix this, but the new washers were too large OD to fit into the counterbore on the banjo fitting. Another easy fix just sand down the washer OD a smidge and it's good to use.

But then it had a leaky hose connector where it should seal on the conical tip of the hose fitting into the conical socket of the banjo fitting. And the threaded nut was difficult to disassemble with binding thread. Flip a coin? Banjo fitting or hose? We found another banjo fitting on a spare pair of carbs, but that one was mated to a female tapered pipe thread connector. Oops. Fortunately it came apart okay, and the straight thread on the banjo fitting was not damaged. In short order the car was back together with no leak. The female cone in the banjo fitting that was removed looked like crap. See how far we can throw that one. On test drive we discover differential input pinion shaft bearings are loose, making gear noise on overrun, but that will wait for another day. Maybe make another appointment for next time we pass through Pennsylvania. Mission accomplished time for a late lunch.

Addendum Feb 20, 2017: Cause of the differential noise was found and fixed. The big nut on the differential input shaft was loose (very loose). Now tight and the noise is bannished.

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