Just a Simple Wrench
Hard Start to Spring
Retrieving the 1968 MGB from the winter storage site an hour and a half away is always an exciting event for us. We generally find that a car that has been maintained through the driving season retains sufficient mechanical integrity through winter storage and is thoroughly pleasant in rediscovering driving enjoyment six months later. But we have learned never to attempt the retrieval without forethought and preparation. All the usual road spares accompanied us along with the fully-charged battery and an air pump.
The first sight of the car was encouraging as it was not sitting in a pool of essential fluids and the tires were round on the bottom. One of us performed a fluids check while the other of us installed the battery. So far, just fine. Next, we checked the battery connections by turning the headlamp switch to ON. The result was absolutely nothing – no lights at all. A test lamp showed power across the battery cables and from the positive cable to the body as ground. This demonstrated the battery terminals were secure on both the battery and the cables and that the ground connection to the body was intact. The next point of bad connection we checked was at the starter solenoid where the positive cable from the battery is distributed to the heavy brown wire that supplies power to the fuse block. This check consisted of nothing more than lying down on the floor and attempting to rotate the terminal with the result that the headlamps illuminated immediately.
This is definitely a connection we pledged to check when we had our first opportunity to get under the car at home. Interestingly, summer driving through tall grass sometimes pulls the terminal off this spade connector with the same symptom of power at the batter and nowhere else.
Inline fuel pump and pressure gauge inserted between the fuel filter and carburetters.
So now the car cranked just fine. But it did not start. The car has an extra inline fuel pump and so is equipped with a fuel pressure regulator and pressure gauge. The pressure gauge showed 1.5 PSI which is a good pressure for SU HIF carburetters. So the problem was in ignition or the carburetters themselves.
We next checked ignition by removing a spark plug and watching for a spark when the plug was connected to the plug wire and grounded to the engine. There was a nice spark there and we noted that the plug was absolutely dry. As long as we were on the right side of the engine we removed the distributor cap and verified there was no moisture which could have caused misfires. But we did not forget about the dry plug tip which should have been soaked in fuel due to the several attempts to start the MGB.
The carburetter dashpot dampers were loosened and one of us watched the feeble motion of the dampers as the engine was cranked. The carburetters seemed to be working but they were working without full enthusiasm. Then the engine caught and was nursed to a steady idle as one of us went around the car checking for tools left in place, shutting the bonnet after tightening the dampers and closing the boot and picking up the piece of debris that was a few feet behind the exhaust pipe.
The debris was the problem, of course, as it was the wad of steel wool that we had inserted in the exhaust pipe as a mouse excluder and had not removed when we picked out the bags of moth balls that had been scattered in the car over winter. And that was why the dashpot damper movement had been so subtle and that the sparks plugs were dry – we had been keeping the engine from its natural breathing cycle.
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While everyone was enjoying a tasty lunch Dean reviewed and scored the rally sheets. He then announced the winners:
I found out that I had placed as well – I won last place never recovering from my performance on the first challenge. I also won the enjoyment of associating with great people and driving my car all morning in great weather. Thinking of how great it was to not be driving in the rain (Spring Brunch & Oshkosh Tour) I have to tell you that I encountered light showers about two miles from my home – go figure.