A Tale Of Two MGB’s Part Two.

A Tale of two B’s part two…

 For part one please follow this link. A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One

Ebay…

I watched the last few seconds praying that someone would out bid me. They didn’t. Importance of Gut Instinct.
What had I done?  Ironically, I’d just bought the car I was looking for when I got Mog, my 1952 Morris Minor.  An  MGB GT… Buying a Morris Minor.
It was 250 miles away and now the question was, how would I get it back?  After quickly making contact with the seller and arranging to pick it up later in the week, I sat back and reflected. It would be an adventure at least.

Ticket To Somewhere.

I walked up to my local railway station, Penryn, loaded with a rucksack full of spare parts and tools. My socket set was gaffer taped up and reminding me just how heavy a good one is. With a few spare face masks, ahead was 250 miles and 5 hours of train travel in the modern pandemic world. At least I’d have two seats to myself.  The train would take me to Maidenhead.  The car was few miles away, but Richard , the seller had offered to pick me up. This would allow me to change the B to an historic vehicle. One that was both mot and tax exempt. A quick visit to the post office and it would be in my name and taxed. Yet I still hadn’t seen it. Tools… The Importance of a Good Socket Set

When I met the seller at the station it confirmed the impression he gave on the phone, he is a true gentleman.

 

MGB First Impressions.

 

I could tell he was nervous about how what I’d think of it. As we pulled into a very nice house the B sat there. I recorded my initial impressions.  The car was better than I hoped. The more I dug the better it got. Yes, it has a few issues, but it could be far worse. To be honest, often a glance is all I need, but closer inspection can either confirm or prove I was wrong.

 

MGB Quick Check Over

I then set to giving a car a good once over. Oil, water, brake and clutch fluid, fan belt and so forth.  the clutch was a little low,  and not much water in the cooling system.  But then the car had been barely used for 6 years, thankfully inside and not near the sea, unlike Jess’s B. A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One

When I popped the distributor  cap, to my surprise there was  electronic ignition. To those of us who know, worth mentioning and a good thing. Quickly changing the rotor arm and cap. Richard who had popped out to get some brake fluid returned. Assessing a Car

Spares and History.

It was mentioned, would I like some spare wheels? …  A total of 5 extra. Again, something which would have been great to mention. As one tyre was really not even good as a spare. Richard was amazed as I pulled out a scissor jack and collapsible axle stand and proceed to change the front right. Checking the front the front right wheel bearing as I did. It had a little play, but nothing to really worry about, but still to keep an eye on and replace sooner rather than later. Checking the passenger side, all was good.   As I was doing this, Richard brought out folder that contained the cars full history, including every mot from the start. Of everything, this was the most important and if he had mentioned it in the listing, I would be looking at an Austin Maxi instead. I placed the folder safely in the car and thanked him.

Time to Start the MGB

Pulling a spark plug, dirty but looked almost new.  Then filling up the carburettor pots with 3in1 oil it was time to fire the MGB up. With full choke, she fired, but ran really badly. Richard commented on the amount of black junk coming out of the exhaust. This, I wasn’t worried about, we have all seen those rescue car videos and know that it takes a while for a long dormant engine to settle down. https://youtu.be/bNN2ePkv5gY
 For example, Junkyard Digs. 

As the engine, popped back, misfired I checked the exhaust. It sounded like it was either sports exhaust or was leaking. Placing my hand over the end confirmed it must have a sports silencer fitted. Not an issue on car like an MGB, much more so with something less sporting.

Time to Head Home. 

After letting her settle and finishing a second stellar mug of tea I said goodbye to Richard and his family.  Then we headed into the fading light and home…

 

A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One

A tale of two MGB GT’s.

Offering To Drive 700 Miles.

As we changed the gearbox on Mog I found myself saying to Jess, “OK, we leave at 6 am tomorrow…”
After struggling with Mog’s mismatched parts  tomorrow would be interestingMorris Minor, Filling Some Of The Gaps.

Early Start.

 

Picking  Jess up in Tug, my little MK1 Vitara  At 6am the following morning.  We set off loaded up with parts and my Cebora 130 Mig Welder. Ahead of us was a journey to the North Welsh Coast and date with a 69 MGB GT that Jess had just bought. Suzuki Vitara MOT, 4th Time.
 

Classicaraddict Does Road Kill

After finally finding our way it seemed we were half way up the foothills of a mountain. There before us was nice, but needing attention MGB GT. It needed a quarter panel welding along with the exhaust.  Welding One Small Patch? 

 

Jess cleaned up the area that needed welding and quickly cut a patch to fit as I set my welder up.  After which he slugged it in, with impressive skill.  Then he tackled the exhaust. At this point it would be hoped that we could load up and head home. 
Sadly, the clutch was seized. The next hour was spent with Jess trying to free it up, which finally he did. https://youtu.be/pOhl6oVpEes

 

Braking Issues and Breakdowns

After heading towards the local supermarket filling station Jess flagged us down. His front right brake had stuck on.  Thankfully next to it was a Halfords. I tackled the brake as he did some other work. 
After half an hour or so, we headed south and east.  The car running ok, until finally we picked up the M53.  Aiming to stop at the first services, the B decided too a little early.  Almost beside the second marker for it. 

After a couple of minutes, I told Jess it would be better to tow it down the hard shoulder to safety. We did this, changed various parts of the ignition system when we got there.  She fired, so coffee time for us. Morris Minor Road Trip Part Two.

 

Convoy Driving In The Dark.

Time was late, and we still had 300 miles to go. Driving in convoy is difficult at the best of times, in the dark on a busy motorway almost impossible . We lost contact and at that point I wished we both had Sat Nav’s or walkie talkies. Just south of Birmingham I went straight on, Jess went right.  ¾ of an hour later, finally we were back in convoy. It was now 11pm and we still had 240 miles to go with two full tanks of fuel. No, we were not wearing shades. 

 

Finally Home

 

Finally making it back for 4 am, we had made it!

I’d driven 780 miles in the Vitara. We had rescued a 69 MG MGB GT and made  it home with only a few issues. 
That was 2 months ago as I write. The MGB has been Jess’s daily since.  For a tale of two B’s this is only one.   

Morris Minor, Filling Some Of The Gaps.

 

Spares to a daily.

From buying the Morris Minor to driving to the Northeast, a jump worthy of any postmodern film or book.  When I studied creative writing 10 years ago, we were taught show don’t tell.  Yet how did Mog and I go from oh my god to being able to do a round a trip of 1200 miles?   Morris Minor Road Trip, Part One.

The simple answer would be with a lot of hard work and many breakdowns. Perhaps not the most descriptive or in depth blog post especially for one that is theoretically about cars. This post is a less detailed overview of experience Mog and I shared during those months.

After Getting The  Morris Minor Home. 

After towing Mog back behind Tug from Exeter I was allowed to borrow a driveway to work on her. 15 years before and 3 weeks after buying my Triumph Spitfire this was the same place I changed the gearbox.  I said a week then and I did it.  Again, I said a week and 6 days after I started welding Mog was solid enough to drive down.   Buying a Morris Minor.

During that time, I didn’t just weld but also had to fit a new thermostat, water pump and a few other parts. But we made it, sadly the dynamo stopped working, but thankfully Jess had a spare so we swapped them over. If at that point I thought it was over, and it would be possible to enjoy the pleasure a new car how wrong was I?  

 

Ignition Issues. Road Side Solutions. 

I spent the day doing little jobs and just as it was getting to late evening was about 6 miles away from home Mog died.  Her ignition switched fell apart. In fading light and with my phone battery low I had to find a solution. This was made far harder due to inexperience with Morris Minors. What would be easy a few months later was a struggle.  
 

An older car needs fuel and ignition. If I could get those working there was still time for us to get back safely before it got dark.  Thankfully the Morris Minor design came to my aid. The bulkhead has the fuel pump on the left, battery in the middle and coil on the right. Even with my lack of electrical knowledge it was a simple question of running a live feed to both the pump and coil.  We made it back. The following day I made the repair a little more permanent.  It held until last few miles of my return from the North.   

The Muppet Factor. 

Nigel popped down the following weekend. Quickly getting the indicators working and one or two other little issues.  We then settled into a two-week cycle, something would break. I’d fix it  then two weeks later something else would.  https://youtu.be/VaRNZn4OYh4

The next major thing was down to my own muppet factor… With Sheldon from Classic Britain I showed how good the brakes were. In the Process breaking the engine mounts. Not only was this caught on film, but also it meant Mog had to get recovered. With no local specialist parts were ordered and the wait began, the combination of parcel farce 24 and Cornwall meaning that it could take up to 5 days for anything to arrive.  The job itself not difficult. Repairing the radiator taking longer, as the steel fan had clipped the top.  

Cylinder Head

Having repaired her and after a few days, she started to run badly and misfire whilst in Falmouth. Managing to make it back safely and after few days I took the cylinder head off. There was a crack between the combustion chambers of number 3 and 4.  Once again Jess came to my aid. After upgrading his engine last year from a 948 to a 1275 he let me have his old engine for a good price.  The swap was soon complete and Mog was running once again.   

Lack Of Preparation, More Problems. 

A simple job of changing the rear leaf springs became far harder to a combination of my lack of preparation and the parts supplier mixing nuts of the same diameter but different threads together.  Again, once bitten, twice shy.   This sums up those months, simple jobs often made far harder due to previous repairs, (bodges,) my lack of Morris Minor knowledge and the main parts suppliers being a long wait away with parcel farce.  

Axle Issues. 

I mentioned during the introduction of Morris Minor Road Trip Part One the axle was changed.  The day before I was due to go to Liskeard and Bridgewater to pick up some spares.  I decided to change the driver’s side oil seal.  This was a mistake, after tapping the locking washer flat the nut holding the half shaft on was loose. Praying the threads were worn on the nut and not the axle casing, of course the casing was worn. I spoke with gent at Liskeard and he did have an axle for sale as well at a good price.  A few days later I spot welded the nut to the casing.  Something which I wish I’d thought of on the Saturday.  

The axle change wasn’t easy, likewise the week after almost cutting my finger off the gearbox went. Mog’s mismatched combination of early and later parts meaning that was far harder than it should have been. 

So? 

Reading through this there is an intentional dryness to the post. I’ve not written about my emotional experience of owning and driving a Morris Minor, an early one at that.  Now that is real story and will be saved for another post.  

Buying a Morris Minor.

Quick Recap

My friend Jess and I found ourselves at the edge of Exeter looking at a Morris Minor 2dr saloon. A few days before I had been looking at classified adds on Gumtree…Classified Classic Car Hunting

Running? 

 With a battery attached the engine was coaxed into running for a few seconds. Whilst I might not know much about Morris Minors, I do about the A series engine and this one was sweet sounding.  Assessing a Car

Dashboard & General Condition
After wrestling  a seat into the empty cabin, I sat behind the wheel, the dash being very different to the later ones. The iconic central Morris Minor Speedo not only stylish but also very practical as it allowed both right hand and left drive vehicles to be made much cheaper.  

Yet here was a dash that looked much less 1950’s and more 1940’s. Cream painted tin, chrome, and bakerlite with Banjo 3 spoke steering wheel… The lighter  panels offset  by the rich blue of an earlier window out respray.  

 All the tyres would need replacing and to be honest the amount of welding needed scared me silly. Yet…  Welding One Small Patch?

Jess and I went back for a little chat beside Bel, my MX 5. He said it was bad, but it could be far worse. The expense being the body on a Morris Minor as the rest is fairly cheap.  Yet the engine was good and we gambled on the transmission. He went on to say, Morris Minors seem to have either good oily bits and poor bodies or the other way round…  

From the floors up she was solid.  

https://youtu.be/q9WvF7gD_3M

https://youtu.be/_5qK4wW33Mk

Negotiating a price.  

As Jess looked over the Moggie again I sat down with the seller. 
 

We have all watched those shows where people rip the seller off and flip the car for a big profit. Others have described them as sharks with smiles… 
I’m not like that, but when I do low ball, I’ve learnt that if we are getting on it is much easier. 
After telling the seller that I was going to take the mickey and that he wasn’t going to get upset. He wasn’t, told me up the price by £100 and knowing he was being a gent, we didn’t shake hands, but I gave him a £200 deposit… I knew it that he had come down a long way and I wasn’t going to insult him any further.  MX5 Goodbye.

After visiting a nearby supermarket, taking the rest of the money out I paid the seller.  Arranging to pick the car up soon, Jess and I left to see a friend locally for a socially distanced coffee before heading back down the A30 to Cornwall roof down… 
I’d bought a Morris Minor, and early one, but what had I actually bought? 

Classified Classic Car Hunting

Classified Hunting. 

Late night classified add looking is never a good thing. 
Hunting that bargain, odd wording, fuzzy pictures or lack whereof spark the interest.  

Requirements

As I’ve already mentioned, the car to replace Bel would have to be an historic one, tax and mot free with cheap insurance. Also, the parts would have to be plentiful and cheap.  That immediately discounts anything with a VW badge, as yes there lots about but you pay a premium. http://www.classicaraddict.com/mx5-goodbye/
 

My requirements meant an older British car, ideally an MG MGB GT, but they are little expensive. To be honest I’m horrified how much once cheap cars are now worth, Ford Capris as an example, a few years ago bangers now anything is worth thousands. After this shock I found myself looking at adds and this is when living in Cornwall is an issue, for many Bristol is the far southwest, Exeter might as well be France  and Cornwall Outer Mongolia. Combined with the amount of salt in the air here, especially near the North Coast we have to travel.  18 months ago I found a MK1 Toyota Rave 4 Auto for a friend at Honiton and felt I’d got away lightly.  Finding a Unicorn Car for a Friend.

 What To Look For In An Add.  

After looking on Facebook Market Place and eBay I tried Gumtree. Lots of  adds full of clear pictures and well written and with each one my heart sank a little lower. Then one stood out, a single fuzzy picture not too far away by our standards as only 100 miles, well 96 away. After getting used to how gumtree works I contacted the seller and asked if we could have a look at the weekend. It would have to be Sunday as I was towing a car back from Plymouth for a friend on the Saturday.  https://www.gumtree.com/

Initial Contact With The Seller.

We agreed a time, this was Thursday evening, on Saturday I confirmed that we would be aiming to be there at midday and if we came to an agreement £200 pounds would be a suitable deposit.  Just before we left on Sunday morning in Bel my soon to be sold MX5 I messaged to let the seller know we were on our way. 

Arriving / Initial  Impressions.  

Aiming for midday I rang 2 minutes passed to let him know we were outside. As he opened the gate, the seller said, “the price is not fixed.” Not the thing to say to a buyer…  The seller is a true gent and to see his lifetime collection of pushbikes, cars, and paraphernal was amazing.  He showed us his much loved 1925 Citroen Cloverleaf  looking just like Brum the children television series and not that much bigger.   

Three generations of petrolheads together all sharing the same passion. The seller, myself and my mate Jess in his early 20’s. Those who know Jess would have guessed the car now. For those who don’t, Jess has two cars on the road, one 1956 2dr  rat rod and the other a very original 1966  4dr and this was the reason he was with me.  Both Jess’s cars are Morris Minors and the car  was a one, except it was a little rarer than many.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/importance-of-gut-instinct/ 

A Morris Minor, But what Type? 

I’d found a 1952 split screen 2dr Minor, listed as a series two and needing a lot of work. She had been stood standing for over 10 years the seller having rescued it from a possible destruction a few years back.  Yet not having the welding skills, he never managed to get her on the road. With the arrival of the Citroen it was time to let her go. 
To be honest my first impression was oh bugger as the interior was stripped out and clearly both sills and lot more needed doing. Yet as Jess clambered all over her, and we managed to make her fire up she spoke to me. Running enough to let me know she wanted to live.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/33/

This is the first of a whole series of posts, and yes there is little hint there…

Classicaraddict Meets Classic Britain.

 

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain…

Before Christmas, I stumbled upon a Youtube Channel called Classic Britain. First what attracted me was the content, the presenter, Sheldon was clearly a grade A Petrolhead and his scruffy Rover P6 (Kismet) is a really interesting car. After a little while, I also worked out they are based in West Cornwall.

The Mentor… 

Oddly we never get to see Sheldon, but we do get to see Lucas,  his friend, and Mentor.  Their friendship is clear to see, and infectious.  Lucas, smart, funny and has lived a life. He gives no shit’s about what others think. Yet, and having met him and his charming wife, what is clear, they are both good people.  Caring about those who are privileged to enter their world.
He also knows his stuff when it comes to old cars.

 

Man Behind the Camera.

Now I will admit that on air, Sheldon comes across as far older than he is. From his voice, I’d of said he was late 20’s or early 30’s… Right up until the point he got in  Bel and I suddenly realised he was in his early 20’s.  Sheldon is one of those characters who have a power to them, a good-natured force of nature. Others become attracted, his passion infectious. They start chatting, remembering times past. More than once, someone came up and spoke to us as we worked on Kismet, the Rover. In this way, he reminds me of my friend Jess, who at 20 decided that a 1957 Morris Minor was his ideal first car. They share a strange magnetism that makes others want to help, and perhaps remind us of who were or could be once more.

Sheldon and those around him have an old-fashioned sense of decency that is sadly passing into another time. Perhaps being based in West Cornwall, helps, for time does more slowly down here. We have a different culture and the rules that go along with it.

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain, not for the last time…