Friday, October 28, 2011

Go West Young Man

The drive west from Aldie to Upperville in a classic convertible is good for the soul.  The drive winds through rolling hills along horse farms traced by stone fences standing as they have for 200 years, then passes through towns and villages at least partly stuck in time. It was a sunny, slightly cool fall afternoon and we were heading to British and Classic Car Doctors to have the seat belt mounts welded in. On the way I happened to stop in at the store owned by the guy I bought my car from.  He was glad to see it and we chatted for a while.  I've seen him twice since buying the car and both times I've gotten the sense I could sell it back to him on the spot. Not a chance.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Hit My Car with a Hammer, or The Muffler Change

You don't have to be an expert to diagnose this muffler problem.

 As it turns out, that muscular "growl" of the engine was a series of small rusted holes in the muffler. Over the weeks, the growl got steadily louder until the other day when it became nearly deafening.  A quick peek under the car revealed a softball sized hole in the muffler where the small holes joined to let loose a big section of rusted metal.  I'm suspicious that the muffler had silver paint over a rusty section when I bought it, but no big deal I had already noticed the visible rust on it and had planned on replacing it. Turns out this is one part that has gotten scarce, but I was able to track one down from a supplier in Michigan: $89.95 plus shipping from the "Little British Car Company" (

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fuel Gauge Repair and Near Death Experiences

The offending fuel gauge unit partially removed for the repair.
I decided there is no way I could commute in this without a working gas gauge.  Mine was either pegged beyond full no matter how much gas I had, or bouncing wildly between empty and full as I drove around - neither was helpful.  The way the gauge works is that inside the gas tank is a floating aluminum cylinder attached to an arm, which as it moves up and down with varying levels of gas the acts as a variable resistor by moving some internal parts.  This assembly is called the Sending Unit, and is connected through a long wire to the back of the fuel gauge where the varying resistance is supposed to position the needle between E and F relative to the height of the float, and therefore the level of fuel.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

No, the other MG Blog by a guy named Geoff

Incredible as it seems, it will not be sufficient when telling your friends about how this blog has changed your life to identify it as "The blog about an MG by a guy named Geoff.  I have discovered quite by accident and completely beyond all statistical probability, that there is actually another MGA blog by a guy named "Geoff" who is doing a strangely similar thing with his blog from the West Coast. Oh, and it's Red with Tan Interior same as mine. In the words of the great Dave Barry, "I swear I am not making this up".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Repair: Electropneumatic Trafficator Timer

The turn signal way up there on the dash.
Driving an older car in some ways is like learning to walk again.  All the familiar workings of modern cars are missing and replaced by what can be a bewildering array of "not obvious" replacements.  One of these in the MGA was the turn signal.  Of course it's not a control arm attached to the wheel on the left side as in all modern cars - that would be too easy.  The control is a lever on the dashboard that you have to take one hand off the wheel to reach. When I first got it I wasn't sure how the thing was supposed to work, other than that pushing it one direction or another obviously made the corresponding blinker flash.  However, as received when you pushed it to the left or right and held it the signal functioned, but stopped immediately as soon as you let go and it was a real pain to try to hold the signal through a turn.  It wasn't very safe and it slowly dawned on me that it couldn't be the way it was meant to work.

Friday, October 7, 2011

MacGyver vs. The Accelerator Cable - A Near Stranding Saved

Who knew MG stood for MacGyver?
It started when my kids asked to go out for a joy ride.  How could I refuse?  I promised to give all three kids a turn and took off with my oldest. We got down to the bottom of a hill just around the corner from our house and the accelerator pedal seemed to lose all power. Jamming my foot against the floor board would get the engine speed up just enough to move under low power.  We limped along far enough to find a safer place and pulled over.  It was getting dark but I could see well enough under the hood to see there was no obvious catastrophe.  I also noticed that the engine was still running fine except that I couldn't get the tach above about 1500 RPM.  Odd.  It was enough to get me down the hill and across level ground, but I'll never get back up the hill at that engine speed. I start to worry about how I am going to get this thing home, and really wonder if I was just too big a sucker to notice that I'd bought a nice looking lemon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting Legal

It was time to get legal, and I found some pleasant surprises after a little research.  First, I didn't need to get a safety inspection before getting it titled and registered in Virginia. You can take care of that afterwards.