Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline April 2016

MGAguru is on the Prowl
MGA Guru is Gone Mobile

Five weeks since last report, and we have covered a lot of ground. Seems like we have been shuffling back and forth between Alabama and Georgia since Feb 5, more than six weeks in those two states. On Feb 22 we got a call from a friend with a request to check out two MG Midgets for sale in Phenix City, Alabama, and by coincidence we were sitting six miles for the cars at the time, so we did. Slightly sad cars, solid bodies but not run for many years; I don't think they have sold yet.

We stopped to visit Phil Campbell in Tuscaloosa, AL, who collects a variety of odd things including Cushman scooters (too many toys and wishful projects that will never be finished). We were specifically investigating the possibility of reviving a Sunbeam Alpine which has been dormant for a long time. Phil has owned this car for decades and has some significant personal attachment to it. But by now the car needs (expensive) full restoration work, and he apparently didn't plan to do anything with it beyond getting it running. This turned out to be one of the rare cases where I managed to talk him out of spending his resources on this particular project. That was a rather disheartening experience.

Suzie and Ralph, happy and mobile again

MGA caliper mounting plate,
wrong side and upside down

A few days later we were attending a tech session with North Alabama British Motoring Society in Owens Cross Roads (northern Alabama near Huntsville). A lady named Susie Farmer owns a nice MGB named Ralph that needed a tune up and a rear slave cylinder. This soon extended to a rear wheel hub seal replacement, which turned out to be a knuckle busting chore involving a few "big boy" rental tools, but we ultimately succeeded. Test drive came after 10-hours effort ate the whole day. Next day we were working on an MGA for David Shelly in Madison, AL, freeing up stuck choke a doing a tune-up, and also adjusting choke and calibrating electric tach on a nice pull handle MGB.

We had a visit to Southside Motors, Inc. in Huntsville, AL, to visit an MGA under restoration. On the return trip we noticed that David Shelly's MGA would not turn sharp enough to make a proper U-turn. While investigating this problem we R&R'd the radiator and changed the timing cover to install one with a rubber seal. The steering problem turned out to be brake calipers hitting the lower A-arms, which prompted a few hours work to disassemble half the front suspension to switch brake caliper mounting plates to opposite side of the car to correct mounting position of the calipers, and change tie rod ends while we were in there.

One of my MGA front bearing hubs had a loose bearing problem again (having changed the hubs nine months earlier). I mentioned this at a club meeting with North Alabama British Motoring Society, and one of the members happen to have the needed front hubs. So next day we stopped by to visit Doug Nixon in Huntsville to pick up the good used parts, including a long chat about neat experiences with old cars over many years (typical for MG folks). A few days later I got the offending front hub changed (along with a late night oil change). In the process I finally figured out why repeated attempts at balancing my front wheels was not working.

Resetting timing chain on MGB
There was some small bit rolling around inside one of the tires, most likely a broken piece of valve stem left inside during installation of the tires. Now I want to blame this for constant vibration at highway speed, deterioration of two bearing hubs, and some abnormal tire wear. Having done 55,000 miles since the tires were new in October 2014, we will need new tires again very soon.

We were in Columbus, Georgia for a couple of days replacing front and rear suspension bushings on an MGB, including hand reaming a couple of bronze bushings. In the midst of this we had a dinner meeting with Brits In The Valley (Columbus GA) and arranged a tech session for the following day. This is where we got to R&R the timing chain on the MGB we diagnosed earlier (reported late last month) to set the cam timing right. That car now purrs like a kitten (or roars like a tiger), so the owner is now ecstatic about driving it with vigor.

In mid-March we attended a tech session with Peachtree MG Register in Cumming, GA (north of Atlanta). This was to be a grand demonstration on installing a new convertible top on an MGB, but it got stalled half way through when the pre-installed
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