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 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.

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.  

 

SAAB TOO FAR…

This is the first in number of short stories best entitled, this really did happen… 

 

LOUD KNOCK…
A loud knock on my door woke me from thoughts… It was 10.30 pm and to my shock there were two policeman…

“Mr Small, do you own a blue SAAB 900 convertible?”

“Err, yes why?”

They then told me that it was now hanging over a wall in a local car park. No, not joy riders but simply the handbrake failing and this was it’s resting place.

Where I live, we play the parking lottery every day. There is a free car park behind the main street. It is steep and despite being mostly rectangular at one end cars can park at an angle. This was where I’d left the SAAB an hour or so before…



Assessing the situation. 

I followed the Bobby’s down and there was my car. Resting on the wall it was sitting partly on the petrol tank and across the back axle. We were all amazed that it didn’t touch another car during its 60ft passage. With one wheel was about 3 ft over the wall. The damage was minimal, yet unless I was careful much more might be done moving it. The police told me that couldn’t get an Hi AB in to pick the car up. Did I have any ideas…

The Saab rolled from where the blue car is parked past the garage on the left to about where silver car is. Quite a distance and how steep the car park is clear.

Solution. 

The SAAB being front wheel drive and those wheels thankfully were on the tarmac… So, in theory I could drive it off… Mentioning this to the police, they expressed concerns about the tank rupturing. As I’d helped my banger racing mates, I knew how tough the tanks are. As it was  a pre General Motors SAAB, which meant the tank was super strong. Also, being an older design, the back axle was about 3ft from the rear of the car, or a lot to catch on the way off.

The police agreed that this was the best option. Then told me to take it gently. I sat letting the car warm up for a couple of minutes. They gave me the OK.

This was the point I dumped the clutch at 4000 rpm. I didn’t see the faces of my audience, but as the rear wheel hit the far edge of the wall the suspension compressed and then rebounded. This bounced the rear of the car up as I planned. Clearing the wall, no further damage to the car was done and with only a few scratches in the render of the wall the police told me not to worry about it. Then came the question of where to park it until I could get it fixed. The only level parking space was taken by a scruffy Triumph Spitfire, my Spitfire…

 

Afterwards

After admitting to owning it the Spitfire, I swapped the cars over and in the morning drove it less than a ¼ of mile to my local tyre and exhaust centre to get the back box replaced. Then my local SAAB Specialist fixed the handbrake. Anyone who has owned a proper SAAB knows that they are very well engineered cars, but it takes a while to learn the idiosyncrasies. So easier to get someone who knows what they are doing than to struggle for hours.

It could have been so much worse. Sadly, the one thing that could kill the car did a few years later. With an odd engine and gearbox design, this was the weak spot, and when second gear went, I drove the car to the end of its mot and then sold it to my mate the specialist.

Oddly this car, despite being well made, comfortable, more economical than expected, very stylish, and with good handling I never truly bonded with it.

Having had another front wheel drive, four-seater convertible, a MK3 VW Golf, that one I still miss. The SAAB, glad I had it, but somehow it was less than the sum of its parts.

Oh, and every time I’m in the car park, I remember and grin.
And the Spitfire has its story… Well lots, but there was one story that relates to this one that will be told.