Tales of the Mongrel
The June edition of the “Driveline” arrived and I read about the Spring Chicken Rally, Road America, Jo Daviess road trip, Run to Brighton, etc….. but the article that caught my imagination was that of the “Editor’s Corner” on the inside of the front cover by your Driveline editor, Victor!
Vic’s article about his electrical
fault under the dash caught my eye for a number of reasons not the least of which was the fact that my very first MGB was the same year as Vic’s i.e. a MkII, 1967 Roadster (mine was yellow). Vic’s car, the fault that caused his preverbal “poof” of smoke and panic and Vic finding a hidden secret of the previous owner all struck home.
My first MGB, the ‘67, was a great car – probably the best year British Leyland ever made (I hate you Vic)! It took me back the summer of 1969 – I was 16. The song “Hair” was the number one song and I had just seen the Doors play at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, Connecticut. Oh, by the way, the Eagles were the warm up group!
I lived in Newtown, CT and was tooling down Main St in that small New England town when all of a sudden smoke came billowing out of the passenger side of the dashboard. I panicked!! I pulled the car over, shut it down and ran across the street to the local Rexall Drug store (remember those?) to call my dad. I remember looking back at the “B” as I entered the store only to see a continuing mass of smoke exit the cockpit. We towed the car home and I went looking under the dash – what a mess!
As most of you know, the main wiring harness from the engine compartment comes thru a hole in the fire wall under the dash on the passenger side of the car just to the right of the wiper motor. Apparently the rubber grommet that insulates the harness from the metal fire wall
had come off (Lord knows when) and over time the vibration and the rubbing back and forth caused the hot ignition wire to fray, make metal to metal contact and melt that section of the harness together. What a mess!!! The fix was straight forward – cutting out an eight inch section of harness and then reconnecting each of the wires it contained individually with new wire. It took the entire weekend! What a MESS! At the sweet old age of 16, I got my first
MGB lesson in electrical mechanics. Dad had a “mechanical friend” that helped me.
MG’s are just full of old memories for me! On the issue of Vic finding the secret work (push button starter) of his B’s previous owner, I had a similar situation with my brother’s TR-4 a few years back. We spent the day “cleaning” up the wiring and I never saw sooooo many Rube Goldberg wiring jobs in my life. By the end of the day we got most things to work but the car had a hive of cut wiring piled up, to one side of the car, and ready for the trash.
To this day, I occasionally take a
quick look under the dash at that part of the harness to make sure the grommet is secure. The age of these cars normally come with a history of owners. Having an MG does constitute a cautious review of what is under the dash and behind the radio. It would not surprise me what one just might find there….lurking in the shadows. Lucas is not always the culprit!
Hey Victor – Thanks for your article – it did take me back and just might help one of our newer members!
-- Ralph Arata