The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (September 1 - September 15, 2017)
Friday September 1, 2017:
Better seen in the light of day, this would be Niel Findly in Kelowna showing off his 1979 MGB (yes, looks can be deceiving). Lowered suspension, chrome bumpers, dual carburetor conversion, reversing all those things the factory only did because of government regulations (except keep the power brakes).
There was a little trick with a Honda heater valve, very smooth and and to use. And some interior enhancements, like center console and glove box lighting (and a hide-away radio).
Back in the workshop, the tail section of another MGB waiting to be turned into an MGB trailer (and the light axle to match), as well as the MGA Coupe he drove to the Monday night club meeting.
Cars in good condition, and nothing needing to be done here, Niel was intent on packing for a camping trip, and we were soon on our way. The twisty hilly road along the west side of the lake is more fun with good visibility in the daylight than last night in the dark. I have to keep reminding myself we still have to find a couple more new tires.
Saturday September 2, 2017:
Holiday weekend, no club events scheduled, but a good day to be looking for new tires. Several phone calls around the Kelona area ran into a number of "none here" responses, a few "could get some in a week or two", and a few "23 tires in local warehouse, can have on Tuesday" (obviously multiple vendors accessing the same warehouse). Has anyone heard of Gremax Capturar CF2 tires? I find a number of sources, but no reviews. These seem to be the only 165-80-15 tires in western Canada, so we may end up life testing another tire brand.
More time shuffling the spread sheet to find non-conflicting dates to visit car clubs. It doesn't help that three clubs have monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the month (not particularly uncommon), but we manage to find some weekend events. Looks like we will be in BC for another two weeks to get together with four more clubs. Then a week to shoot over to Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta area before returning to BC. As fate would have it, I recon we will head south out of Canada by end of month to circumvent the October 1st winter tire requirement in most of Canada. That looks like opportunity to clean up some loose ends in Washington and Oregon, and will have to return to Canada in the Spring.
Sunday September 3, 2017:
The problem with a long day off is that by evening I forgot what I was doing in the morning. From email messages I recon it was some tech questions, a couple of web page updates, and some fine tuning of planning and routing.
Monday September 4, 2017:
Supposed to be a holiday here, so all quiet on the club fronts. By mid afternoon we were headed north to visit Terry Muir at Muir Castle in Vernon, BC (that's what the sign said). Get out of the sun for a while.
A peek behind the workshop finds a nice MGA 1500 tucked under a canopy. Originally OEW with black and white seats, now yellow with all black trim. Noticed it has two 1500 type wheels and two 1600 type wheels (a surprise to Terry). Also a dash plaque from the old MGA Register, which predates NAMGAR by a few years.
In the shop a reliable daily driver TR7, and a TR8 getting a little touch up work. Then it was dinner time on the back deck overlooking the lake, followed by more chat until dusk fell to reveal lights across the water.
Some after dark business we can attend to. There was an early MGB 3.91:1 differential that wants some attention before being installed in the MGA. Copious end float in the input shaft will require removing some bearing shims. If that's not enough to get bearing preload, then it may need new tapered roller bearings. Will also need to be partially disassembled to install 10-spline sun gears from the unit currently in the car, and new thrust washers while it's apart. Start the shopping list now, but don't buy anything until it is apart for inspection. Always a chance it may need a new pinion shaft, plus shims, gaskets, seals, and fresh gear lube.
Tuesday September 5, 2017:
Say goodbye to Muir Castle today, and hello to Cavell Excell Service center back in Kelowna. If nothing else we will finally get the front tires replaced today. Called before 10-am to get the tires out of the warehouse, short wait for delivery, then arrived 2-pm to get them installed.
The retiring Nexen tires made it 57,000 miles, pretty good considering they survived a month in northwest Canada and Alaska. Now we get to life test another brand we never heard of before, Gremax Capturar CF2. Notice the UTOG rating 400AA. Nothing unusual about 400 tread life rating (high end for a street tire), and I always insist on "A" traction rating, but the "A" temperature rating is something new to me. This is the first time I have ever seen "A" temperature rating on a tire in this size. Also an interesting tread pattern that looks like it may be good in rain. More about this later.
One negative note, today I notice a slight bump in the lower part of the MGA grille. No idea when this may have been touched, except most likely not today. Bummer, but it won't keep us from traveling.
Our WiFi spot closed 9:30-pm, so we hauled out and ended up two hours west before stopping for the night.
Wednesday September 6, 2017:
Another hour and quarter west landed us back in Abbotsford, BC today. First impression about the new Gremax tires after a few hours driving is notably better directional stability than the Nexen tires. When driving on the slightly rutted "W" shape road surfaces the car has less tendency to wander off center (climb out of the valleys), so less constant corrections and more relaxed driving. So far so good.
Got an email noting a friend from Alaska, having been in Oregon and now heading back north, spotted us on the road near Hope, BC this morning. Small world.
Looks like two days to kill unless something unforeseen might pop up. So there was a chance to catch up on some tech articles that have been on hold for a while. One was about construction of low profile air cleaners for HIF carburetors in a late model MGB with power brake booster (posted on Chicagoland MG Club web site).
Thursday September 7, 2017:
Started the day with a new tech page with photos of a disassembled Vandenplas Aluminum hardtop (which may help for restoration work). Making plans to go out of country tomorrow. Really?
Friday September 8, 2017:
This looked a bit fishy at first. A club cruise on a Friday? Old English Car Club of British Columbia, Vancouver Coast Branch, had scheduled a "Mount Baker Run" beginning in Surrey, BC, crossing the country border into United States, stop for lunch, and a run to the top of Mount Baker. The event was not on the Branch web page, but was on the web page of the parent club. After multiple attempts, no contact was established with either organization, so we decided to just show up to see if this event was for real. Yes, it was real. So why on a Friday? It's tradition, for several years now. First Friday after labor Day, kids are back in school, and not much tourist traffic on a week day. Okay, whatever works. We met with four cars from the Vancouver club in Surrey, all Triumphs by coincidence. The rain didn't look so bad, so we all elected to continue the run.
After crossing the border at Sumas, WA (27 miles east), we found one more TR waiting for us, but that car had no screenwipers, so he elected to return home (after putting the top up).
Twelve miles more and we hung a left onto Mt Baker Highway, after which it would be 34 miles to the summit with no other way out.
Bonus, a chance to try out the new tires on wet asphalt pavement and some winding roads. Happy to report the Gremax tires do okay in the wet, look like keepers.
Arriving at the planned lunch spot about 11:20, it turned out not to be open until noon. But they had a sister restaurant just down the road that was already open, so not a big problem. I must not have been paying attention, as we picked up a Triumph Stag somewhere along the way (maybe at the prior planned lunch spot). So we were then six cars and a dozen people for lunch at Woodstone Pizza & Bar in (rural) Deming, WA. Nice place, good food, and the rain was letting up some, so it looked like a go for a run up the mountain after all (although three cars bailed out at that point).
Put the TR3 up front, our MGA next, and a TR8 behind. Just head east, you can't get lost, it's the only road left. Nice hill (singular) with twisties for another 22.6 miles. Lots of 3rd gear, then 2nd gear as it got steeper. Toss in a couple of 1st gear switch backs, and keep an eye on the temperature gauge (don't forget the 600 pound trailer) as we push it up hill (no problem actually).
At the top, one mile high, nice sweat shirt weather and some melting snow fields with clouds around and below us to limit visibility. Nice mountain.
Of course getting there was most of the fun, and heading back down can be even more fun, while it is of course easier (as long as you use lower gears and don't cook the brakes). Occasionally we have to dodge or straddle a few rocks in the road (just part of the fun).
Like going in, Mt Baker Hwy is the only way out. When we hit the junction 34 miles back, the nearest known WiFi spot was past Sumas back in Canada, so that's where we went, back to Abbotsford, BC. Time to catch up a full days worth of email, BBS, tech questions, photos and notes, and there went the rest of the day.
Saturday September 9, 2017:
Aside from normal WiFi work I dunno, it just went away. Some things about door latch alignment, origin of the name "Deluxe" for an MG wiht All Round Disc Brakes option (or Competition Suspension option), reproduction Twin Cam cylinder heads, trying to identify an odd distributor, planning ahead a bit, and turn signal gremlins (common problem).
Sunday September 10, 2017:
Fraser Valley British Motor Club, car show and picnic at Cultus Lake, BC. By mid morning I counted 45 British cars on display, and a few more would roll in later.
Just a few that particularly caught my eye. I was parked beside the 1933 Panther motorcycle. There are quite a few MGF/TF in Canada, not originally exported to the States. An occasional TVR 2500M is always nice.
A beautifully restored MG TC next to the MG ZA Magnette. A pair of Jensen GT with the Lotus twin cam engine. Brits like to call these small 2-door sport wagons "Shooting Brake". Go look it up.
The pre-war Aston Martin was delightful. Love the mechanical brakes and friction dampers over leaf springs. By days end there was a President's Choice trophy on my MGA. I stopped asking why a long time ago. It's a personal thing on the part of the President.
Monday September 11, 2017:
Day off? Couple of tech articles about batteries in parallel requiring in-line power fuses, and coolant leaks at the thermostat cover.
Tuesday September 12, 2017:
First stop today was a visit to British Bigfoot Classic British Car Parts in Mission, British Columbia (Canada). There is a substantial inventory of parts for our vintage British cars, and I recon those are imperial gallon size tappers of Old Speckled Hen on the upper shelf.
Stepping outside, the first vintage British vehicle to catch my eye was the Leyland 154, which is a variant of MGA (well, sort of). This one has the Austin B-series 1.6-L gasoline engine with a Triumph carburetor (go figure). They might otherwise have a 1.5-L diesel engine (about 28-hp at 2500 rpm). For more information about the Leyland 154 see tech article VT-103T. Inside we found a pair of MG, a Triumph 750 twin, and a Harley Davidson "bitsa" bike (bitsa this and bitsa that, assembled from spare parts).
But the staples of the stable are the Bigfoots, a variety of Land Rovers built to work of course. The business name used to be "BBC British Car Parts And Service", but these days we can drop the last two words, as this is primarily a parts business. The Bigfoots are mostly personal business with not much service for customers.
Next up was a visit to Best British Cars in Langley, BC. The Austin America immediately caught my eye, as I bought one new in 1969. A delightful little car to drive, but this one is well past its prime (thoroughly rusted). A mostly complete car in need of full restoration, it can be had cheap, but considering low market value it will more likely be split for parts.
Say hello to Kelly McPherson, owner of BBC. Today he was doing some restoration work, up to his third knuckles in spray glue applying vinyl to a trim piece. In the shop today was a very nice Spitfire a big Healey, and a Midget (Kelly's personal project). There were also two TR7's, one in primer nearing completion, and another restored body shell (next in line). The MGB 5-main engine and 4-syncro OD gearbox were from a parts car apparently available if anyone needs them.
Plenty more pending projects out back, so if you see something you like just whistle and point, and you may get Kelly to restore it for you.
In the evening we had a meeting with Canadian XK Jaguar Register - Canadian Classic MG Club in Burnaby, BC (another club with two names). An early arrival was an MGB willing to show off the ACDelco alternator, small, reliable, and cheap as dirt at any auto parts store.
Inside more than 30 people assembled for the business meeting, and a short video compilation of Jeremy Clarkson and highlights of the Top Gear series.
Here I finally met Doug Holburn, the young owner of the very original Alamo Beige MGA that has been in the family since new. You can back up to July 28 to find "before" pictures of that one. It has since been progressing with a good rub-out to improve the paint and chrome, soon to be back on the road. We have an appointment for another visit with this car next Friday.
Wednesday September 13, 2017:
Working on some tech information today about MGA door latch and striker parts, rear hub seals.
Thursday September 14, 2017:
Tech questions about fuel gauges, rear axle splines, thermostat gaskets and sealing threaded studs. Laying plans for the next few days.
Friday September 15, 2017:
Early morning visit to Doug Holburn in Abbotsford, BC. Been here before on June 27, but this time there was a coffee and donuts breakfast meeting with several friends, and we had just enough time to squeeze it in. The business name is All British Cars/West Highland Coach House, sometimes known as CRAP central (Classic Restoration And Preservation). There are lots of vintage British cars sitting around this place, and a few more oddballs in the bunch.
If you need vintage British engines or engine parts, they might likely be here.
One of the guys was a locksmith, and had an interesting key for show and tell. This one has five cylindrical side actuted tumblers, each one having a tumbler pin coaxial within a cylindrical tumbler, making for a 10-tumbler lock (with reversible key). The two plug buttons midway along are not tumblers, but are anti-pick features.
By early afternoon we were 25 miles farther west to visit Roland Falcioni in Port Coquitlam, BC. We met him at the Tuesday night club meeting. He has an nice MGA, but was concerned about considerable smoking out the tail pipe with only 100 miles on the new engine. It had good compression readings, so probably not a piston or rings problem. So off with the head for internal inspection. Pistons and cylinder walls looked okay with some carbon on the piston tops and a wee bit of honing marks still visible on the cylinder walls (but not enough to account for the oil consumption). Then we began to remove valve springs to check the valve guides, and found the problem immediately. Someone (who shall remain nameless) had installed umbrella seals on top of the valve guides, which could be okay, except the original valve shrouds were still in place. The shrouds work like a guillotine to shear off the rubber seals immediately during installation, before the engine ever get to run. The fix for this is to remove the shrouds, replace the spring caps with later model parts having larger pilot diameter for the inner valve spring, and reassemble it with new umbrella seals.
Our evening appointment was an hour back east for a meeting with Fraser Valley British Motor Club at Atchelitz Thresherman's Club Room in Chilliwack. Situated next to the fairgrounds, the place is like a small town street lined with museum buildings and collections of vintage farm machinery.
You can poke the pictures, but I count more than a dozen vintage British cars in attendance, and about 30 people inside for the club meeting.
The young fellow in center of the last picture has recently taken possession of an MGB, now his pride and joy. Good to see one of the many younger enthused MG fans attending the club meeting.
No one with a hand up tonight, so places to go and things to do, and by late night we were heading three hours east over the mountains and into the Okanagon valley in preparation for next day's appointments.