Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline March 2016

(Continued from page 8)

posting another new tech page on converting a MG ZA/ZB Magnette to (cheap) modern disc brakes, (see

On Feb 12 we dropped in to visit Yardly Bailey in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the proud owner of a very nice TR3 that has been in the family since new, restored a few years ago. It has a minor issue with door alignment, and we did a bit of adjustment for fuel mixture, otherwise all is well. Next day I was visiting Eddie Davis (and wife) in Tuscaloosa, proud owners of a very nice MGA (her car) and a MG TD (his car) and a nice workshop space. By mid-day we were on a mission to pick up a ton of parts that go with two MGA that Eddie was buying (from an estate sale). With help of a fork lift and a large car-hauler box trailer, by day's end the stuff was stowed in a fairly organized manner along one side of two 10x15 foot storage lockers leaving space for the two rolling chassis. The rolling chassis and three engines will be retrieved later. Eddie is hyped about this project, may get started on the work immediately with gusto.

Then a quick trip south for a Feb 15 evening meeting with Panhandle British Car Association in Pensacola, Florida (second annual visit). 30 people here, but a shortage of LBC with just a couple new Minis in the car park (possibly an effect of heavy rain). No commitments here, so were back in Tuscaloosa by 3-am (having done 450 miles to attend one club meeting). A bit short on sleep, same evening we had another meeting with West Alabama British Car Club in Tuscaloosa. This small club has been growing recently, turning out 20 people for a fairly serious business meeting. We had the opportunity to explain what we are up to, although some of the people here already knew about us, and by end of evening we had a couple more appointments.

Feb 17 we were back to Elizabeth's place for more work on her Midget (after an oil change, lube job and valve adjustment for our MGA). We got the Midget's new radiator installed, and replaced a faulty starter solenoid. Had a problem with intermittent spark, traced to a faulty points set in the brand new distributor, requiring a bit of grinding on the points leaf spring tail to eliminate a short to ground. Next day first thing we finished bleeding the clutch, fired it up and took it for a test drive. Elizabeth is over the top elated, happily hot-rodding the Midget around town, and taking it out for a family dinner appointment in the evening. There is still a short to ground in a green wire circuit (for later). A few days later we got a phone call. Would you believe she is interested in buying a couple more non-running Midgets?

Friday Feb 19 we stopped to visit Empire Autohaus in Pelham, AL (near Birmingham). These guys are big on modern European cars, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, but also strong into vintage sports cars. In the shop we found an MGA Twin Cam, MG TD, and AH 3000. They were working on an Audi A4 with a very strange problem involving a "comfort control computer" attached to a window winder motor, and the body control computer in the floor, and an interconnecting cable which was pinched and shorted (in the end a very expensive repair). This stuff really makes me happy to own a vintage MG.

On Feb 20 we were on a tour with British Motoring Club of Montgomery Alabama, off to visit Tuskegee Airmen Museum, a commemoration of the first squadron of black airmen who flew fighter planes during World War II. This was followed with a club lunch at a BBQ joint in Notasugla, after which we were off again to visit Dave Ketchen in Opelika, AL. Dave has a very nice AH 3000 that had a non-working fuel gauge. This was ultimately traced to the NEW fuel tank sender unit with a punctured plastic float filled of fuel. We managed to graft the good metal float from the defunct old sender unit onto the new sender to get it working, and all is well in Opelika.

Sunday Feb 21 we were across the Chattahoochee River into Columbus, Georgia to head up a tech session with Brits In The Valley. This is the club we accidentally created out of the mist a year earlier (and therefore one of my favorite places). Here we fixed wiring for the fuel gauge on an MGB, then spotted a few assembly discrepancies on another MGB and gave it a tune up. An MGA we tuned up a year ago (just before completion of restoration) was in for a valve adjustment to reduce chattering noises. Another MGA wanted a minor tuning of the carburetors. A late model (rubber bumper) MG Midget had a nasty intermittent chatter that we traced to a faulty fan clutch (worn bearing). Another MGB and a TR6 were present as observers (and students). The crowning problem of the day was an MGB with rough running at idle speed. After adjusting a Weber downdraft carburetor and the distributor, checking HT wires, replacing spark plugs, checking valve lash and doing a compression test, the problem was finally determined to be incorrect camshaft timing with the timing chain one tooth out of place. TDC for the camshaft was accompanied by 20 degrees ATDC for the crankshaft. Surprisingly, it ran well enough to drive with ignition timing set to 40 degrees BTDC, but schedule another tech session later to reset the timing chain and sprockets.

21-1/2 months and 71,000 miles into this trip, we are still "off to a good start".
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~~Barney & Elliot Gaylord   1958 MGA with an attitude

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