A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE....
Spring Tune-Up Party
April 21, 2002 - by Howard Turk
OK....so I’m pretty new to MGs, and I thought it would be a great idea to go the Spring Tune-Up Party at Quality Tire & Auto in Darian on Sunday the 21st! And it was a great idea! The weather was cold and damp (raining in fact) but with the top up, what the heck. I got there about 8:45 AM, and other guys and their cars began to arrive at the same time. About 9AM we decided to start and I was amongst the first to get a stall. The work I wanted to get done was just to set my timing and balance the carbs. I had recently installed K& N air filters and new richer needles, and the carbs needed to be reset for all the “new” air they were getting. No problem! But I have NEVER balanced carburetors before, and eventho I studied the books and looked at the video several times, as soon as I threw up the hood, I forgot everything! Just so happened that one of the more respected MG experts in the club happened to be there to help! The timing was off so the distributor was loosened and the timing was brought “spot-on, and then the carbs were synchronized so the air intake was perfect, and so on and so on. Anyway....I replaced the air filters, and took the car for a test drive. Great! The car was much, much better, and I was pleased. I parked in the lot, and went back in, where other cars were being worked on, and to be honest, I probably learned more about “fixin” MGBs in the 3 hours after, then I learned all winter reading books and watching videos! Although that was great too! There were at least 25 people there in mid session.
Be that as it may, about 2 PM everyone started talking about going to meet for lunch, and I agreed to go too. Two other cars and I took off, and about halfway there I heard what sounded like a golf ball bouncing around in my engine compartment, which was shortly followed with large amounts of “smoke” from all around the car! Egads....I must have blown an engine! But...the car kept going, and none of the gauges were going crazy. The guy in the car ahead of me, pulled off into a station, with me behind (he saw all the smoke), and we jumped out of our cars. His eyes were like 2 large white piepans! “WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON”!, is all he could say. At this point The distinct smell of antifreeze gave us the clue. It became pretty apparent, after raising the hood, that antifreeze was pouring out of the radiator near the top tank by the fan! What had happened was, when we adjusted the timing and loosened the nut on the distributor, we removed the oil dipstick and laid it on top of the radiator shroud, and never replaced it! While driving to the restaurant, it vibrated off the shroud, into the fan, and was promptly (shot) into the radiator core! Here I was 50 miles from home, Sunday afternoon, with a radiator that wouldn’t hold antifreeze! Geez...what was I going to do! I had been to a few of the meetings, and made some “new” friends, but really didn’t know a lot of the people yet! What do I do next? What can I do? So I did it! I WENT TO LUNCH!
When I went into the restaurant, and walked into the room set aside for our club there were about 12 to 15 guys sitting at a table, and the first thing I said was, “Anybody bring and extra radiator?” Guess what, one of the members who lived about 6 miles from the restaurant just happened to have one! I followed him to his house, where he promptly went to his basement and came out with an exact replacement! Seems he got it from John Twist when he had a radiator problem in Johns territory! I pulled into his little temporary “Quonset hut” garage, and together we switched the radiators. Filled it with the antifreeze mixture, and I got home! I don’t know if I will re-core the old one, or just buy a new radiator, but I truly found out the value of being in a club of very friendly knowledgeable people! Thanks much to Bill Menell for the radiator and the wrenching.
See photos and notes from the Spring Tune-Up Party at: