Just a Simple Wrench
by Ann & Jake Snyder
We eagerly await your arrival the 2001 Seminars - the 18th in a series!"
The letter from University Motors Ltd reminded us that it was again time for the annual Technical Seminars. Forget about going south- this is our winter getaway. John Twist knows that each year he has to address at least one new topic so that the regulars who have taken most of the other courses will have a reason to travel to the winter wonderland of Ada, Michigan. Last year the new topic was "Tuning for Speed", and this year it was "MG Technical Literature". If you have ever visited UML, you will have seen the Graham Porter Memorial Library, an entire room filled with books, pamphlets, tapes, etc., most of which are specific to the MG marque. John has a passion for documentation, and he was able to fill two days of lecture and demonstration with MG literature. This topic did not have the mass appeal of making your MG go faster, and there were only four of us in attendance, but that made it all the easier to see everything that John pulled from the shelves or brought from home.
The course was organized according to an extensive table of literature types and sources. Types covered were broken down into Technical, Sales, and Procedures. Sources were Factory Publications, Proprietary Suppliers, Club Publications, and Private Publications. Factory Publications were produced by the Nuffield Press, the factory's publishing division. One of the first things we learned was the significance of the identifying numbers found in small print on the back cover or one of the last inside pages of many Nuffield publications. Each publication has a part number (usually with the prefix AKD or AKM for MGBs), and a Nuffield number. Many went through multiple printings of various lot sizes, and many foreign language versions were printed as well. These include the well-known Driver's Handbooks, Workshop Manuals, and Parts Manuals. John has an extensive collection of less familiar publications, many of which he obtained while working at University Motors in London. Among the most interesting are Confidential Service Memoranda. These were communications from the factory to the dealers about problems encountered after the cars had been introduced to the market. For example, one memo from 1963 referred to the problem commonly known within the MG community as the "crack of doom", the crack that occurs on the roadster door near the base of the mirror. This memo acknowledged the problem, and stated that it had been solved. (Sure!) There are also books of Service Repair Times. Even John thought the time allotments were extremely short. Pamphlets, folders, labels, addenda, and posters round out the technical information on paper, but there are also filmstrips and movies prepared by the factory. We saw a filmstrip, prepared for sales staff, that was titled "The Hot Prospect". Sales literature took many forms, including brochures, booklets, pamphlets, folders, and single pages.
Proprietary suppliers who published technical literature include Smith's, Lucas, SU, Champion, AP, Kangol, Armstrong, and Girling. Club publications are quite extensive, and include compilations of technical information and reprinting of some factory literature. Private publications include those of suppliers, such as Moss, Victoria British, The Roadster Factory, MG Parts Centre, etc. and authors such as Lindsay Porter, David Vizard, Philip H. Smith, W.E. Blower, Anders Clausager, Norman Nock, and, of course, John Twist, just to name a few. Near the end of the two-day session, we added another type of publication to the list: Internet postings.
So now we are waiting to see what new topic John will find to present next year. If there are no new topics, the basic three-day course on inspection, tune-up and lubrication is filled with information that bears repeating. If you haven't yet attended any of these seminars, you have some great opportunities. In addition to the basic mechanical seminars, there are restoration seminars, and rebuild courses (Gearbox and Carburettor/Distributor) scheduled each year in February.