Sunday, December 4, 2011

Safety Fast

A special note to my fans: I'd like to apologize to both of you for the long delay since my last post, especially given the safety cliff hanger I left you with in the last installment. I will endeavor to catch up.

Um, that was easy. The dreaded safety inspection turned out to be a piece of cake.  I figured out by furious Googling that all the safety equipment introduced since 1958 (including seat belts) are not required for my car even for daily use. I was worried about having to add a third brake light, put in a roll bar, and all kind of other crazy notions but as far as the good State of Virginia is concerned I can drive this thing just like they did in '58.  A word of advice if you find me out on the road: steer clear for all our sakes.

"Safety Fast" has been the MG motto since the 1930's
I decided that for fun I'd take it to the service station owned by the guy that sold the car to me. As we pulled in they recognized the car right away and called the owner.  He came over looking a little tentative and asked if everything was OK.  When I told him I was thrilled with the car and was just there for a safety inspection, he looked simultaneously relieved and disappointed.  He confessed he'd been holding my check un-cashed, half expecting me to want my money back. Despite my thorough pre-purchase inspection of the car (and those who know me will have some painful memory of waiting for me to be thorough about something) I have definitely found things wrong with the car since purchase that have surprised me.  Thank goodness I didn't see them before or I might not have bought the car!  I got to tell him some of my stories so far, including my MacGyver moment.

The safety inspection itself was pretty anticlimactic.  He knew the car so well from owning and working on it just weeks prior that he pretty much just glanced it over and declared me safe. That was great in a way, but has haunted me a bit as I rattle down the road. In fact, when I found another MG-friendly shop just a few minutes from both home and work I decided to take it in to them to have the "Shake and Rattle" looked at and to get a general "is this thing safe to drive" second opinion. Turns out, all five (spare included) of my wire wheels are shapes other than round, but the worst was one of the tires has a bulging spot that was causing the worst of the shake.  They also found a few broken and bent spokes, and some oddities in two of the brake lines. As a temporary fix they swapped the spare into the spot the lumpy tire was, and made me promise to either tune the tires back to round myself by tightening and loosening the appropriate spokes very carefully (no small feat), or by buying new wheels.  Driving back to work that day after swapping out the worst tire was incredible.  The shake was almost totally gone, and I had no problem getting up to highway speeds and took the liberty of passing a few people with a big stupid grin on my face. At close to $1,500 for new wheels I decided I could live with the much improved status quo a little while longer while I figure out how to tune and true the wheels myself.


  1. Glad to read a new post. Your adventures are followed even on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean (I'm in Europe, and also an MGA owner). Just curious about your daily use of the MGA, I use mine in a more "conventional" way, sunny week-ends only !

  2. Ah, you'll have to follow along here for the full story! The short answer is that I'm still sorting out inherited issues that have kept me from starting true daily use yet, but I've had several stretches of daily use that were glorious. I'm hoping to resolve the remaining 2-3 issues in the next few months in time to really try forcing myself into daily use even in the coldest part of the winter here (January/February/March)