The MGA With An Attitude
MGA Guru Is GOING MOBILE - (November 16 - November 30, 2017)
Thursday November 16, 2017:
Had an appointment this morning with Gary Graves in Petersburg, Indiana. Time zone got us screwed up again when we stopped on I-64 last night we had passed into Central Time Zone. Driving northwest this morning we ran back into Eastern Time Zone, ended up one hour late for our 10-am appointment. But all is well.
Gary has an MG TD with MGB 1800 engine that has not run for decades, but reportedly did run when parked. Intake ports had accumulated a lot of dirt, so the head was removed for cleaning, and needs to be reassembled. Intake and exhaust manifolds and carburetors are from MGA, which seems to be okay. We had some discussion on carburetor linkages, and which fuel needles would be appropriate for the late model 1800 engine with early 1800 emissions configuration (stripped). Should be easy enough to get it running again, but there is otherwise a lot of work to be done to get it roadworthy, and lots more work to make the body and trim look nice (think restoration).
In other corners of the shop are two more cars, AH Sprite an MG Midget. Future of these cars is uncertain, as other realities of life are interfering at the moment. We may return to check on the TD another time.
Had a nice lunch break with time to upload these photos and notes, but need to be rolling again. We have a mid day appointment in Georgia tomorrow. -- The next picture was a little difficult in the dark with the car vibrating
and the speedometer needle wavering, but it tells a story. The speedometer on the left is lit by an LED lamp, while the tachometer on the right is lit by an incandescent bulb. The previous LED crapped out after almost three years use (installed December 5, 2014). I think we are all supposed to believe that LEDs will last forever, but maybe not.
Friday November 17, 2017:
This afternoon we had an appointment with our old friend Keith Farley in Canton, GA (north of Atlanta). If you have been following our travels for the last few years you may recall that Keith used to live in Columbus Georgia, and he is the current caretaker of (one of) "Grandpa's MGB". Today we get to tinker with it again. The current issue is a brake failure lamp shuttle switch showing "on" which should indicate a brake hydraulic failure, but also staying on after the car is parked and ignition is switched off. Keith had procured a couple shuttle switches for spares to work with, and it didn't take long to get the MGB down for access. Of course you did notice the double stacker lift in his shop space.
Having disassembled both spare shuttle valves, we pick the best of the two, cleaned up the inside bore, installed new O-rings and reassembled it. Then to install it we had to remove those pesky air cleaners, disconnect all of the brake pipes, and unbolt the shuttle valve from the inner fender. Once completely reassembled we had a little problem with the connector pigtail, until we figured out how it works. Both the wires are black and white indicating switched to ground. Inside the top of the white nylon switch the two terminal pegs are electrically connected together as one. When the switch is actuated, the wires are switched (connected) to ground on the body of the shuttle valve. That makes the indicator lamp on the dash light up. The second wire comes from the press to test switch. When you press the switch it also switches to ground making the indicator lamp light up to prove that it works (that is, press to test). When it didn't work as intended, electrical tests indicated that one of the terminal pegs was not making contact to the pigtail. The expedient solution was to connect the pigtail wires together so that only one of the terminals actually needed to make a connection.
When bleeding the brakes we ran into another problem, hydraulic leak at the right front brake caliper. At the top of the caliper there are two possible positions for bleed nipples. These contained one bleed nipple and one plug. The plug was leaking, and no one had touched it. Tightening the plug left it still leaking. Problem there was the plug turned out to be too short and was bottoming out of the hex head rather than sealing on the tip end. Not having another (longer) plug in hand, solution was to use another bleed nipple to plug the extra port.
With those problems solved we moved on to bleed the brakes and the clutch, and all was well of the world.
There was also some discussion about right angle speedometer drives that would break the input peg repeatedly. Having heard a lot about this problem before, I recon
it's a problem with the right angle drive parts, and time to find a different supplier.
To sum up the evening, put the toys away and head out for a nice dinner. Then head south and drive for a few more hours in preparation for next morning's appointment.
Saturday November 18, 2017:
Today's appointment was visit to see Bill Waller in Albany Georgia. You might recall that on prior visits we had revived a chrome bumper MGB that had set for many years. Today we were to going to install new cylinder head on a rubber bumper MGB. This car previously had the single Stromberg carburetor and catalytic converter. It is now retrofit with a 1-3/4 inch SU carburetor and intake manifold from an Austin Marina. In short order we had cleaned the top of the block, sorted a few head studs, and placed a new head gasket.
The replacement cylinder head was a pre-1968 model with no air injection ports and in-line oil supply hole for the 4th rocker pedestal. Solution for this problem was use a little JB Weld to plug the slot on the bottom of the fourth pedestal. Inside the water jacket we found what looked like a piece of welding rod. This is not the first time I've seen this. Some years ago I found a similar long steel rod inside of the cylinder head of an Austin Healey 3000. This one was a lot easier to remove. We had a 10 AM start, then a three hour mid day break when Bill had something else to do. Back to work in mid afternoon, by the time dark fell we had it back together and running for a couple minutes (no water in the cooling system yet).
Taking advantage of a warm dry evening Bill thought it was a good idea to change the clutch slave cylinder (before an expected cold front and rain storm). This car is getting very close to driving away for the first time in many years. We think his wife is going to be pleased, as this used to be her daily driver before they got married. We will have to toddle along tonight, as we have other appointments tomorrow, but we will be checking on this one again later.
While still in Albany we stopped for gas, changed a burned up parking light bulb, and replaced the failing
Mallory ignition condenser. I have had a terrible spate of failed Mallory condensers in recent years. The last good one was installed in May 1999 and lasted 99,313-miles and 12-years. The one installed in June 2011 was purchased earlier (possibly in late 1999). Since 2011 the Mallory condenser life spans have been:
Failed Mallory condenser
9000-mi 18-mos - 257-mi 2-mo - 2900-mi 4-wks - 5200-mi 5-wks.
This last one was actually sputtering a bit and failing from the day it was installed, bad right out of the box and getting worse with time. These were interspersed with some other brands also failing regularly. The one (and only one) good condenser in the past
6-years was from a local parts store, a plain white box generic condenser that ran 121,489-miles in 4-years. I was about to look for another one of those recently when Jeff Schlemmer from Advanced Distributors gave me a few condensers that he has had manufactured (to fight the recent spate of bad condensers on the market). I just installed one of those with high expectation that it will good for a long time. -- Late night we were toddling on up the road another 90 miles to Columbus, GA for our next planned appointment.
Jeff Schlemmer condensers
Sunday November 19, 2017:
Had a tech session today with the Facebook group Brits In The Valley (Chattahoochee River Valley). This is the group that sort of materialized out of a few friends after our first passing this way three years ago revived a few British cars. We like to think of it as our second club or home away from home, so we drop by whenever we can. Three years on the group has grown to something like 85 members. Hey, when you get it right people come. Today we were meeting at the home workshop of Larry Stephens in Columbus, GA. We were a little early, so just a few cars there when we arrived. The red MGB belongs to Jim Walton, one of the founding members of the group (along with Keith Farley from two days earlier). Apparently nothing wrong with Jim's car, just on charge.
First patient today was Phillip Clark's blue MGB, needing a bit of a tune-up, mostly not idling well and putting
out some smoke at odd moments. Definitely running rich, which was easy to adjust. Notice the cut down stubby screwdriver for mixture adjustment on the SU HIF carburetors. But it was still a bit rough at idle. The timing light showed 22d BTDC at idle, not too bad. But it also showed 46d BTDC at road speed (vacuum disconnected and plugged), which was way too much. That 24d difference is 12d mechanical advance at the distributor. After "de-tuning" it to 32d BTDC at road speed it came out to 8d BTDC at idle, only needing to reset idle speed to be happy.
Traffic was picking up. By the time the buffet table came out we had as many as 15 people in the shop. Next up as the grey MGB belonging to Steve Bettes. This one also had a rough idle with a bit of a bite, which turned out to be running lean on both carbs. Easy fix, and the timing was spot on. Get the victory picture with the big grin.
There was the white MGA of Keith Treadwell. We were getting that one running three years ago after it had
just been painted in a car port and restoration not quite finished. Lots of chat about carburetors, cooling, fuel boiling issues and how to deal with modern motor fuel. As the party was breaking up Larry Stephens was putting his MGA 1600-MK-II back in the garage (with the dog enjoying a free ride). Play time over, we were off to find a WiFi spot to catch up with the gunt work. After 11-pm we had another 90-minute jaunt back to Albany, GA where we had just arranged another appointment.
Monday November 20, 2017:
Got to sleep in today, late breakfast, then at noon we were dropping in to see Tom and Kelly Seegmueller in Albany, GA. They have a nice 1978 MG Midget with the original TR Spitfire engine converted to a downdraft Weber carburetor, still having the catalytic converter in place but no air pump.
I last saw this car a year ago when it dropped in for a visit at Bill Waller's place. Since then, the Midget has not been running for the past 11 months due to problems with the water pump and cooling fan. A local mechanic had replaced the water pump but had some problem transferring the thermal clutch fan assembly from the old pump to the new one. After it was driven for a bit the fan clutch came loose from the water pump, and the fan damaged the radiator (which was subsequently repaired by a local shop). Apparently the prior mechanic moved away, and the car sat with no fan, so no driving. They finally gave up on the thermal clutch arrangement and bought an electric fan, which we would install today.
Tag on the fan said MC109K-F 12-volt, Made in China. That would be 10-inch, medium profile, reversible “S” blade fan with 90 watt motor. Specification says 5.1 amp current draw (not 7.5), so maybe it's running at somewhat less than the maximum motor output. Or if it's 90 watts at 17.5 volts peak, then maybe 70 watts at 13.5 volts (or there about). We had to reverse the fan blade to convert it from puller to pusher, and determine electrical polarity to make it turn the right direction. There were multiple trips to the local Pep Boys for Lucar terminal splitters, colored wire, fuel filter, and antifreeze, while I was regularly pulling minor bits out of the magic trailer. We finally wired it to the "green" fuse powered from the ignition switch, so the fan will run all the time the engine is running. While I'm not worried about the fuse, I may be worried about putting an additional five amps through the ignition switch, but I tend to try the simple path first.
As daylight was failing I was fixing a leaky fuel filter, installing a new fuel hose and finishing the coolant fill, after which the engine fired right up like it had never been asleep. A little time was invested to adjust the carburetor and get it running smooth. Kelly was absolutely delighted that her car would be back in service. There was a bit of unfinished business (like soft brakes) so we checked into a cabin at the local campground to stick around another day. I suppose there is a question about the electric fuel pump near the fuel tank (and fuel pressure regulator in the engine bay), when this car originally had a mechanical fuel pump on the engine.
Tuesday November 21, 2017:
Mid day, back at the Seegmuellers to but some finishing touches on the Midget. We had to fix the failing brakes, likely needing to be bled, and also important to flush fresh fluid through the system every couple years. Now
there's the first problem. While front brakes to 2/3rds of the work, air in the rear brakes will make for a spongy pedal. And the fluid looked kind of murky, having ingested some moisture over the past couple years. Fluid type was unknown, so we took a small sample and dropped it into water. It immediately mixed together making the water murky. The fluids did not separate out of solution, so we knew it was glycol based (DOT-3 or 4) and not silicone (DOT-5). Off to the store to pick up a quart of DOT-3.
Standard fare bleeding, remove old fluid from the reservoir and fill with fresh fluid. Open bleed nipple, stick a small hose on it, hold hose in a pot with finger over end of hose as a check valve, and pump the pedal until any air is removed and fluid runs clean. Repeat for all four corners, refilling the reservoir as required to prevent it running dry. A bit of grunt work, but in the end we had firm pedal and good working brakes. Go ahead and take it for a spin. Oh, by the way it will run better if it has fuel in the tank, so find the nearest gas station and fill it up.
Figure the clutch hydraulics should be bled too, but that bleeder is nigh impossible to reach without jacking the car up. So we emptied the clutch reservoir, washed it out, and refilled with fresh fluid. Tom has a plan to use a friend's hoist later to flush the clutch fluid. For now they are happy as a lark that the car is back on the road for the first time in nearly a year. Rather short day, done by mid afternoon, time for a late lunch and friendly chat. Then heading farther south late night.
Wednesday November 22, 2017:
Landed near Tallahassee, Florida today, maybe a little earlier than anticipated. Time to lay low for the Thanksgiving holiday period. Catching up with trip photos and notes, email, BBS, some tech questions, and beginning to look forward to possible activities in Florida.
Thursday November 23, 2017:
Thanksgiving day in the USA. Shhhhh, don't bother anyone.
Friday-Sunday November 24-25, 2017:
No new pictures, so haven't bothered to update the trip log for a while. I don't remember everything I was doing, but I always have something to do with the web site and email. I did get together the monthly trip report for the Chicago club newsletter, Saturday night. Spent much of Sunday listing Florida friends we haven't touched yet, putting them on the map and the Planning list.
Monday November 27, 2017:
Had a meeting tonight with MG Classics of Jacksonville in Atlantic Beach, FL. Last visit here was in January, not quite a year past. Jolly good bunch, but apparently not a lot needed with their cars. I think we added another local shop to the Shops list.
Tuesday November 28, 2017:
A little time with photos and notes form last night's club meeting. Spent a lot of time today spiffing up the Shops list, mostly formatting niggles and a few broken links (got little carried away while adding the one new shop).
Wednesday November 29, 2017:
Thought I was going to have another day off, but I guess not. Got a call back and took a quick trip to visit the new shop, SJE Classic Car Care in Jacksonville, FL. Say hello to the owner Stuart Etheridge, a life time British car enthusiast, operating at this location going on two years. I think the body he is leaning on may be an MG TC. The third picture is most of an MG TD.
There was a Triumph Hearld, a couple TR3, a Lotus Europa, a larger newer Jaguar, an MGA just coming out of hibernation, and an old Jaguar (MK-5 maybe). Business is good, busy, busy, busy.
Oh, and that beautiful show stopper vintage Rolls Royce.
Thursday November 30, 2017:
Kinda hanging out again. Two people near Jacksonville on the program for a visit, but one with no email and an error in the phone number, and the other not answering the phone. So we headed south after dark, destined to be cruising pst midnight, but tomorrow should be busy and interesting.