A Tale Of Two MGB GT’S Part Three.

Heading Home, Initial Problems

 

For the first two instalments, please follow these links. A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One   

A Tale Of Two MGB’s Part Two.

After connecting the sat nav I headed home, ahead of me 250 in changeable conditions and it with it getting dark. For the first few miles it spat back, misfired and generally misbehaved.  

As the engine started to settle down the next issue rose it ugly head. What seemed like smoke started to rise from the dash board. As I pulled over, I prayed to Lucas, the god of old British cars not to let this one burn. 

Now, I have a confession, my sense of smell is not that good, never has been. So there  I was trying see if it was water vapour or smoke. Seeing how it condensed on the windscreen, it must be vapour.  Not ideal. Thankfully I had a few litres with me and it is fairly easy to get more if needed.  This being Britain I could just hold the bottle outside… 

Reading Rush Hour Traffic, Teething issues.

I was guided towards and through Reading. It was now 6 pm and it seemed the city is just a collection of junctions with traffic lights, mostly red. 
When I put the headlights on the fan belt squealed, an indication I should have tightened it. Apart from that and the steam coming from the dashboard the car was settling down.  It wasn’t fair of me to ask it to cope with heavy traffic so soon after getting revived, yet oil pressure was good as was the temperature. 

Finally The Motorway, First Stop, Adjusting The Fan Belt

 

Finally getting to M4, I opened her up. Nothing silly, but this was the first time I’d felt that lovely long-legged cruising ability that MGB’s are renown for. The overdrive clicked in and we sat at 65 mph. After about 15 miles we approached the next service station. An Ideal place for me to tighten the fan belt, check her over and of course stretch my legs. 

The Belt adjusted, wheel bolts checked and I visited the services.  Feeling more confident once again we found ourselves turning west. The next couple of hours was a question dealing with the endless road works and average speed check zones and heading towards my next planned stop at Exeter.  Morris Minor Road Trip Part Two.

 

 

Flat Tyre On The Motorway

 

Entering the roadworks ahead of junction 29 I could hear a flapping, trying to work out what the noise was, for once I was thankful of 50 zone. After almost clearing them, the front right tyre popped. The B was still very controllable and stable as I eased my way towards the hard shoulder. Pulling in behind I large concrete barrier and with road work cone on my right I quickly changed it. Thankful of my foresight of packing a scissor jack. 

A few miles later it started to rain and the drivers wiper  didn’t, the passengers seemed good. It could wait for us to get to Exeter to swap them over.  I pulled into the petrol station not far from where months before I bought Mog from. Finding the best wheel and tyre among the many in the back I used the free air to pump it, then topped the tank up.

 

Diversion, Beans On Toast

 

At this point I should have been heading down the A30, but instead I went down the A38 a few miles to see my friend Jude. After some much needed beans on toast and a mug of coffee. It was time for the final 100 miles or so. Deciding to head back to Exeter and the A30,  rather than the shorter route through the Glynn Valley.

 

Final 100 Miles

 

With the conditions getting worse I carefully eased my way onto the A30. Rain was interchanged with fog. The going was slow, but steady. The rain came down sheets and the fog was thick. The B plodded on, each mile west taking me closer to home. 

Parking her in an unrestricted area, I thanked her,  locked her up and headed to my bed. We made it home, it was 2 am and easier trip than the previous one with Jess.

 

 

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 Road Trip, Part One.


“To travel hopefully is better than to arrive.” Wrote Robert Louis Stephenson in 1881. Red in the Shawshank Redemption narrates at the end of the film, “I feel like a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”
 

Before leaving.

Two weeks ago, I loaded Mog my 1952 Morris Minor up and prepared to leave on a long journey. Here was a car that hadn’t been on the road for ten years until only a few short months before. After I completed the initial welding work had an immense amount done as what could fail did. The fews week prior had seen me change a gearbox, passenger front wing, weld in two large repair panels due to a bodge creating a rust trap, a rear axle, two brake pipes, several oil seals. Oh, and another oil change. Buying a Morris Minor.

 

In the days of tall ships, the saying was, one hand for the ship, one for the sailor. The modern version went, the boot is for the car, the interior for me. Carrying more spares and tools than some mobile mechanics.   Yes, I was overprepared, but still  not enough.  With my paddleboard on the roof, clothes, paddles, wetsuit on the backseat off we set.  Filling up at Truro the next stop would be just before the M5 at Exeter, not far from where I got Mog from.  MX5 Goodbye.

Initial 100 Miles.

Those first 90 miles were a shake down, and if not shake they certainly rattled. We headed off up the A30. Where I found to my pleasure that with all the work completed Mog would sit at 55 to 60 MPH, well unless the hill was steep… The Paddleboard affected her crosswind handling a little, ensuring a mild tail waggle in certain conditions. Nothing to worry about, just to be aware and take account of.  

Early Issues.

 No, the biggest issue was the rattle coming from the gearbox selector cup. One that amplified leading  to a deeper understanding of those who suffer tinnitus. Running locally not an issue, but after an hour or so, wearing.  Working out that the lightest pressure damped it and remembering that I had a couple of shorter bungee cords in the boot it meant that when we stopped, I was sure it could get sorted.  
 

We pulled into the well known supermarket at Exeter, 90 miles into an initial 230. Filling up cost £14 of the premium fuel, not too bad considering. After giving Mog a quick visual check over followed by her oil and water off we headed for coffee stop at Taunton Deane. With the less steep gradients on the motorway Mog would easily keep up with the slower traffic. The rattle from the gear lever fixed with a combination of bungee cord and hairband. Yet my radar pinged.

Loosing water.


It is said that those who have been around older machinery often develop a sixth sense when it comes to problems. I pulled to a stop mine was on overload. Popping her bonnet, oil was fine, but water was down. Clearly there was an issue with her cooling system. After checking all the hoses and fastenings and topping her up we pulled tentatively back onto the motorway.   Running the heater and pulling in every 20 miles or so. On the second stop there was a discarded 5 litre container.  For once being thankful for our selfish society I quickly wiped it down and refilled it.

For the next 100 miles or so that was how we travelled, slow but steady.  Thankfully not to far to our stop,  a deluxe garden shed high up on the hills in Gloucestershire.  

We had made it, tired, I  even had a paddle on the Stroudwater canal. 

Tomorrow could wait, time for a beer and dinner.  

 

Carry Essential Spares…

A couple of day’s earlier my friend rang me up with an issue with his 1957 Morris Minor. My gut instinct told me that it was either the points or the condenser.  I heard my voice saying the best thing to do was to carry spares…Now those words had come back to haunt me…

One of the reasons I’d come up to the North East was for the MX5 owners club record attempt Elvington on the 28th of April… In the past, I have been too car club meetings and I will admit that they are generally not my thing.  Yet… Once again MX5 owners are different. As I made my way down the A19 the number of MX5’s started to increase. Oddly a lot of owners seem happy to sit at exactly 70 mph. I remember a friend who had driven rally cars in the 60s and 70s saying that all cars have a natural cruising speed. Another dear friend who has had both 1.6 and 1.8 MX5’s saying that they like 80 mph… 85 and they get twitchy, 75 to 80 and they will run all day. I agree, when both you and your vehicle like a similar pace, driving becomes much more relaxing. 

So there I was, going along at 80, roof down, overtaking the odd other MX5 until I joined the back of a long line of them.  I only found when I and a few other fellow MX5 drivers followed them into a service station a few miles from the meet. They were from the Tyne Tees group… And a very nice gent in a red NB that had been following came up and said hello. I will admit leaving the service station and arriving a little earlier at Elvington. After following a car from Scotland in were lined up initially 3 across but due to the number of cars that turned up that became 4 across.

After registering, Bel receiving number 255… I met Sid GoPeform and his custodians.  I then had an hour and a half to wait before the record attempt. One way to do this was to queue for the toilets. More than one person was heard to comment that this was another record they had decided to attempt to break. It was then a question of going back to where Bel was… Not as easy it would be normally when far as the eye could see there where was MX5’s.

I did wander about looking at the whole range of cars on the track. From scruffy NA’s and NB’s to the restored, immaculate early ones, daily drivers and pristine later cars. Oh and a few customised cars.  Each car special to its owner. Oddly, Bel did stand out a little, her mismatched bonnet, gaffer tape on her rear quarter panels, rack and wearing her patches with pride.  I chatted with Brett from Total MX5 about the joy of owning a scruffy everyday car. One that is reliable…Oh how that came back to bite me… Yet one that we can jump in and drive a few hundred miles. 

It was then time for the record attempt. I’m not going to say much about with this post as I think it deserves a separate one with video.

I left after the record attempt and decided to drive across the North York Moors. Putting Saltburn into the satnav I set off. Soon the little number of MX5’s decreased until it was I was alone in following the instructions. I have a rough idea of the geography, but it is certainly not extensive.  I pulled over at a couple of spots to take photographs and enjoy the scenery. As I pulled away the second time, her alternator belt started to slip…

This was then my words a few days ago came back to haunt me. A few seconds later her belt snapped.  Now I was stuck, on the moors with no real idea of where I was.

If this was at home, I know enough people where I could leave Bel and get her fixed later. This is not the case. Sadly, if the alternator belt goes, the water pump stops working. You can limp a car home a few miles if you know how to drive gently. First thing I did was to switch off all unnecessary electrical equipment. I then switched the engine off going downhill and bumped started her at the bottom. With my heart racing and driving very carefully I made it back to Redcar.  I pulled into a well-known tyre supplier a mile from my mother’s house and she refused to start after. Two passing boys helped me push Bel across the road and I rang my mother who came out with some jump leads. Half an hour later Bel and I were back safe. I started to strip her down hoping that her power steering belt would be the same size at her alternator one…With a choice words… It turned out that it wasn’t. Close, but not close enough… About 3 cm too small.

If I had a spare belt it would have been easy, yes, my words had come back to haunt me.

I’ll cover the belt change in another post, but there was a chance I had cooked Bel’s engine.  I’m pleased to say that I didn’t.  As for MX5 meetings, this was my first, it won’t be my last. But there will be a spare belt in Bel’s boot just in case.