“We Do This All The Time”

John changes bearings in an MGB engine

John changes bearings in an MGB engine

We were on a tear all week with MG’s.  In this picture John can be seen changing out the main & rod bearings in an MGB engine.  If you look closely you’ll see that with the exception of removing the front & rear bearer plates, it’s an intact engine.  While he was in there, he also re-keyed the camshaft for more advance to wake things up some.  Butch did the high speed testing and reported that it pulled cleanly past 4500 rpm going up  the northbound grade by the weigh station on I91 in Putney.

If you take another close look, you can see that in much the same way we don’t stock Chinese-made brake master cylinders, we do stock almost all of our gasket sets in the familiar blue & white striped Payen packaging, with a smattering of red Unipart sets.  They’re behind John at pants pocket level.

Cutting away the frozen distributor housing on an MGA

Cutting away the frozen distributor housing on an MGA. Click to enlarge

A common scenario we encounter with MGA’s & MGB’s is Frozen-In-Place distributor syndrome.  This is caused by a persistant leak from the heater valve, setting up a bi-metallic corrosion between the aluminum distributor body and the steel distributor housing.  When this happens it’s a really bad idea to try to effect a timing adjustment with waterpump pliers, as it’s a very effective way to make a two piece distributor.

The only cure  that we’ve been able to come up with so far is by elective surgery.  First we pull the distributor clamp plate hold down bolts, loosen the clamp and tap it clock-wise out of the way, and then we undercut the hold down screw, usually Phillips, hidden underneath the clamp plate, at about 7:00.  This is what die grinders are really for.  Use a carbide cutter.

The housing will now be easily removable, along with the captive distributor.  Most of the time heating around the outside of the housing with a propane or oxy-acetelene torch, and then some penetrating oil applied to the bottom of the dizzy is all it needs.  Sometimes we have to put the #$!!%& thing on the press and push it out.

There’s also a six cylinder Jaguar variation of this dance step, whereby the car stops running after it warms up.  It’s just a loose hose clamp allowing a fine mist (usually) or heavy rain (sometimes) of coolant to cause the spark from the distributor directly underneath it to go to ground.

Butch stitches up the drip edge on an MGA

Butch stitches up the drip edge on an MGA

Same week, different MGA.  We were asked to get the aluminum frame sliding side curtains to fit on this car, because they wouldn’t clear the forward edge of the top.  Fortunately, the header rails on MGA’s are made of wood, and it was a relatively simple procedure to pull out 5,000 tacks & staples and peel back the drip edge far enough to cut the necessary clearance into the header rail and tack everything back together again.

Hurd's Upholstering in Springfield, Vermont

Hurd's Upholstering in Springfield, Vermont

A few years ago I kept running into car calendars with an absolutely stunning MG YT decorating one of the warmer months.  A YT, if you don’t know it, and they’re always been pretty thin on the ground, was the open touring version of the early Post War MG YA, & YB sedans, featuring  suicide doors, a full back seat and a folding top, plus a “JackAll” hydraulic system.  If you ever came across that picture, you’re now looking at a picture of where that drop-dead gorgeous upholstery came from.

MG TD with new seats, carpet & panels from Hurd's Upholstering

A Survivor: This one owner TD has new seats, carpet & panels from Hurd's Upholstering. Click to enlarge

We’re storny busy right now, so we arranged for Richard Hurd to install the new seat upholstery, carpet & panels in this TD.  We’ll recover the dash ourselves because Dick wisely decided not to take on the 60 year old wiring & plumbing behind its walls.

Perhaps you’ve also noted the bungee cord running from door handle to door handle.  This is one of our routine precautions for transporting a “T” series car.  Many years ago I was trundling very slowly down a badly rutted dirt road in Bedford, N.H. with an MG TC , when I happened to glance back in horror to discover that the air brakes were full on !    Luckily, there was no damage done at 15 miles per hour, but ever since then…

Next week, perhaps, a report on a very special Austin Healey.

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