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.  

Morris Minor Road Trip Part Two.


Part Two.


Mog and I where heading north to see my mother. For part one, please click on this link.Morris Minor Road Trip, Part One.

Fixing the Minor Issues.

After saying goodbye to my friend, Mog and I headed off towards the motorway about 15 miles away. On the way stopping to fill up with fuel and hopefully find a good motor factor. 
Being directed to a real gem of one. Karparts of Cainscross (01453 758282.) I wondered why the proprietor smiled so much as I pulled up. After walking into what must be one of the last proper old-fashioned car parts suppliers. The owner knowing every single part and exactly where it is.  After explaining my problem, he suggested I tried this type of leak sealant and perhaps a new radiator cap. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d find one unless I called into a specialist  and the nearest one of those wasn’t accepting over the counter customers.  

After quickly getting both the cap and sealant the owner came out, asking me about Mog. It turned out he has a slightly earlier 1952 Morris Minor. Talk about landing on our feet.  I changed the cap, checked Mog’s levels and headed off after thanking the gent.

Problem Solved. 

Stopping twenty miles later, the cap had fixed it. The leak sealer can stay in Mog’s boot until either I or one of my friends need it.  We headed off to drop in at the Morris Minor Owners Club at Derby to say hello.  The further from Cornwall more Mog and I caused a stir.  To see an early car on the road is unusual.  To add a paddleboard on the roof and people when driving slow down, take pics, wave and generally make us feel very welcome. The majority of other drivers showing consideration and allowing us out to overtake. Sadly, a few having no idea of braking distances would pull into the larger than normal cap.

Meeting the Morris Minor Owners Club. 

We made it to Derby and a very warm welcome from Ray, Liz  and Kate. They were more than slightly bemused to see a moggie with such a large board on the roof. With sensible covid restrictions taken into account I had a guided tour that included seeing the progress of the restoration of the last ever car.  If you have a Morris Minor, please join the club. https://www.mmoc.org.uk/

Arriving at Redcar. 


After another cup of coffee, we left, heading through the centre of Derby towards Redcar and seeing my mother for the first time in 18 months.  
 

Now with confidence in Mog, it was simply a question of taking our time.
We arrived at 5 pm, tired but pleased. My mother’s neighbour even let me borrow his garage to put Mog into. A kind act which was much appreciated. 

I’ll write about our time up there on another blog post.  

Return Trip.  

Yet it possible to include the return trip.  The following Sunday we set off, Redcar to Penryn in a  single day, 440 miles.   It would have been nice to see friends in South Wales, but with restrictions becoming stronger that sadly not possible.  We made good time, reaching Bristol for 1 pm after leaving at 9. I was sure we would be back for an early-ish dinner.  

 

In the past I’ve written about the state of driving on British Roads. How it is possible to drive across France and arrive within expected times. Yet in this country, any long distant journey is like playing Russian Roulette.  This time I lost, the signs warned of delays, up to an hour, but they lied.  

 Motorway Shut at Bristol. 

A big accident at junction 19 meant that all southbound traffic was being directed up and over the junction. We reached the tail of the jam at quarter past one.  After 3 hours of virtually sitting still Mog and I headed off at junction 18 and towards the southern edge of Bristol. Any movement being better than none. The traffic crawled and Mog behaved well. Clearly her cooling system was fine. Finally, by 5 we picked up the southern M5 again near Weston Super Mare. We had lost over 3 1/2 hours.  

Moving again. 

After a quick comfort stop and filling up at Exeter, we headed home down the A30. Finally arriving at 8.30 pm.  A twelve hour trip. Those last few miles being hard on both of us. Mog’s only major breakdown being my fault for running to many amps through a switch never designed for it.  Coming to a halt outside my place. Thankfully my neighbour moved his car to allow me to freewheel back into a parking spot.

 

Arrival and conclusion.

After all the problems I’d never thought it would be possible to drive a 68-year-old car so far. Yet the only major problem was due to me.  We proved that a small economy car designed over 70 years ago is still capable of long-distance travel.   
It makes me question what we have lost and gained in those intervening years. For some reason I struggle to imagine in 70 years time a Toyota Yaris inspiring the same passion, let alone the more disposable modern cars. 

Yet, it would be possible for  a Morris Minor to still be going and that makes me smile.

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…

MX5 Goodbye.

 

Lock down… What a few months.  

The world seemed to  go into what I’d been dealing with from mid January. When I write this, I mean the social isolation and dealing with unknowns.  Thankfully, the nature of my work meant that I was allowed to travel for it. Working outdoors with my own tools for once had a few advantages.  

With the operation to my knee being far larger than expected the recovery was equally longer. 2 1/2 month after my knee brace coming off is my leg beginning to feel a lot better. 

So … Apart from going back to work what have I been up too…? 

After looking for a long time for a cheap longboard type paddleboard I found a bargain, less than 2 miles away. This being well within allowed travelling distance during the initial stage of lockdown. I will admit to low balling on an offer, what was already a bargain became a steal. The board, oh, it is an older Drops Spirit. Made and sold around 2009. The board is a classic longboard type shape, a little narrower than many later boards at 28 inches wide and fairly long at 10’11.  https://www.supgower.com/2009/11/drops-paddleboards/

I’ve been using my other boards to surf, like the lovely Fanatic Ray 11ft wd that I bought from Julie, my bothers wife. https://standuppaddlemag.co.uk/2015/06/05/recreationally-versatile-fanatic-ray-pure-11ft/Yet for a long time I’ve wanted a more authentic and manoeuvrable  sup surfing experience. After getting this board it fulfils 95% of my paddleboarding requirements with one board. Nice to paddle on the river, on a calm sea, yet in smaller surf, after getting used to it, simply amazing. I even did an accidental 180 when paddling out on my knees the other week.  The board started going backwards and then did a 180 degree turn, I stayed on. Opinion is divided if I can call this as my first. 
I’m sliming down my quiver to 4 boards, and one of those is only staying because one day I might be good enough to use it and I have the magazine which my brother wrote and article with  photos of him using it.

Early in the lockdown  lots people started posting lots of top ten lists, me being me, albums, films, etc… No, so I did my top ten cars. Yes, I’ve done that before on here I know… My favourite being Bel, with a very close second the Triumph Spitfire. Yet, Bel is an expensive car to keep. So sadly, is time to time to let her go. Soon she will have a fresh MOT and now is the right time to sell. Hopefully another person will enjoy her as much as I have.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/my-top-5-cars-ish/

 

 Bel costs me, even on a limited mileage policy £240 a year, and road tax is £275, mot £45. That is £560 pounds a year before she turns a wheel. A lot of money when you have none. If she was my daily driver and could carry a hard paddleboard there would be no question. She would stay, but time to let her go…  

Bel will be replaced, with a tax and MOT free car, or what DVLA call an historic vehicle.  Here in Cornwall, there a lot of these running about as daily drivers. Some young people appreciate the lower costs, yet, without an annual road safety check, I can but wonder how safe a lot are. Older cars require  a methodical approach to  maintenance  . Like for example a printing press it takes time to learn what but once you have it becomes more a question of noticing what is wrong, rather than right. 

I’m pretty fussy about the structural  and mechanical aspects of my vehicles, and far less so on appearance. Whatever she is replaced with, will still have a check over at least once a year by my trusted garage. That second set of experienced eyes worth so much.  

Having mentioned to the last owner of Bel that she would soon  be up for sale, I’ve been gently hassled since. With her booked in for an MOT next week she soon might be gone.  Bel has been my favourite car I’ve ever owned, like the close run second, the much missed Triumph Spitfire 1500, she wasn’t super fast, yet could cover ground like nothing else. 
Sadly, the combination of running costs and being unable to carry ridged paddleboard means she has to go.   

 

As I’m writing a friend has sold her little motorcycle, we are both grieving for lumps of steel, alloy rubber and plastic that have touched our souls.   

One More Wave

One more wave… 

After the last post, what have I been up too?  

Recovery was slow and it wasn’t until about mid-October that my back was good enough to consider being almost back to normal. The other scars will take far longer and for the second time, my younger brother and I are no longer speaking.  

My knee… As I write it should have been operated on the 3rd of this month, (December 2019.) Sadly, the op was canceled and will hopefully get rescheduled for mid-January 2020. Some nights the pain is constant, on others I can cope. Work is a struggle, likewise doing anything to the fleet is difficult. I changed the front brake pads on Tug, my little Vitara just before my op was meant to happen. A job that normally takes 30 minutes max was over an hour with much swearing and cursing.  

In August whilst taking clean washing from my machine my right leg locked. Stuck, I had to pop my knee and after seeing the specialist it seems I’d torn and possibly detached my right meniscus…  

If my life was not so physical this would not be an issue. Yet walking on uneven ground, carrying off-balance weights, steps, kneeling are. All of which are a major part of my daily routine. At the moment, workwise I can do about 50% of what is normally possible, and then only for 3 to 4 hours before it becomes too painful.  

Thankfully there is one thing that I can do. 

After ringing my good clients in the morning, I’d told them I’d be there for 12…  I arrived at 12.30…  

“One more wave?” was their greeting, we have a mutual friend who got into paddleboarding very early. My clients understand, during the winter, on the south coast of Cornwall we often get rideable surf, not large, but to longboarders and paddleboarders, we can surf it.  

At Swanpool there are now a group of regulars. We have come to trust and respect each other. My weapon of choice, an old 14ft downwind board that turns as fast as supertanker, yet will catch ripples.  

Last year I wouldn’t surf in the pack, now I can. Maneuvering this 14ft board through the group is possible and a lot of fun.  

More than one regular has commented that Swanpool is among the most chilled outbreaks that they have encountered. Mostly free from ego, wave sharing is common, and mutual respect even more so. For a little while, on every wave I’m free, walking the board and reaching back to those early Hawaiian beach boys who reintroduced surfing to the world at the start of the 20th century.  

 

Growing up in Perranporth, on the north coast of Cornwall, surfing culture was a part of everyday life. Summer fashions being a mix of both Hawaiian and Californian.  Admittedly I tried surfing and really struggled. Then went back to bodyboarding. Yet, there in the racks of Perranporth Surf Club stood some of those original boards. Tall and elegant they were echoes of times past.  

Modern longboard type surf sups share similar lines, rightly so. Both those early Hawaiian beach boys like Duke Kahanamoku and the later watermen like Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama used essentially longboards with a paddle when they chose to SUP, (stand up paddle.)

Some aspects of car culture and surf go hand in hand. Hot Rodding originated in Southern California in the late 1930s and exploded into popularity after the Second World War. For instance, The Beach Boys were essentially a group of car guys and not surf ones.  

When I load the board up and head towards the beach the cultures combine. Instead of the woodies of old, now converted vans, for more affluent, VW ones, of course, gather.  

Out in the line-up, the mantra is one more wave and who I’m too argue. Even with my buggered knee…  

Thank you Toni for the pic of me paddling.