Christmas Greeting from Paul and Karen in Sacremento, California. As well as no bonnet, wings or windscreen Paul and Karen are sitting on orange boxes and Paul is holding the steering wheel in position with his hands, full restoration being a little way down the road.
September 16th-18th - NOT the Bath to Bournemouth
Pretty gutted as the fuel crisis has caused the run to postponed, and probably cancelled because of the difficulty in getting it all set up again while the weather is still decent. Doubly gutted since I had managed to fill both cars before the shortages and with a couple of carry-cans probably had enough to do the full round trip. Fortunately our two hotels accepted the cancellation with good grace and the run organisers have insurance to refund the entry fee. Missed three days of driving Bee, but still support the protest. Pretty poor year, this year, barely 1500 miles driving.

August 26th - Cider Chase

Wine-tasting stop at Broadfield Court vineyard

Safe return to

Another run with Malcolm Williams of Border Classics around the unspoilt countryside of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, calling in at several cider farms and a vineyard on the way. Very wet en route to the start point, but roads dry on arrival so top down was the order of the day. Sun peeped through in the afternoon, and a very pleasant 91.4 miles. Get the same number of right answers to the treasure-hunt questions as the winner, but get pipped on the mileage (I recorded 3 miles over). I'm impressed by the accuracy of the odometer on the 1955 Jaguar XK140 that always seems to win this event(!). On the way home we were seconds behind a thunderstorm, but as it wasn't raining on us we kept the top down even though we were splashing through floods in places. Got some funny looks from the locals, though.

I have put a newly refurbished distributor of the correct type for the engine (41228) on 'Bee' but it is pinking on the hills like in April. When I get home I examine it closely and find that not only does it only have one spring instead of two (and probably the wrong one at that) but doesn't even have the correct shaft, this one gives 30 degrees max advance instead of only 20! No wonder it was pinking, and I certainly won't be recommending the supplier. Careful study of the curve (measured on my lash-up timing-table) of the non-MGB distributor I was using in April shows that it has a very similar shape to the 41228, except that it is about 5 degrees higher throughout. So I refit that and adjust it to match the advance spec of the 41228 rather than to the normal static and dynamic figures. Test the static afterwards and find it is about 4 degrees *after* TDC. Oh well, makes for easy starting.

I've now tried Standard Unleaded and Super Unleaded, both with unboosted additive, but still don't notice any difference to LRP or 4-star leaded. Must keep a close eye on the valve clearances for a while, though.

July - California, Arizona and Nevada

Bugatti Type 57C Coupe 1963 MGB Truck-stop between Calico and Yosemite Bought a couple of things at Seligman on Route 66 and was given this poster. Not an MG event but did get to a motor museum in Las Vegas, the only two that really interested me were the Bugatti and the MGB. Every car looked fully restored and immaculate but consequently no patina or character. I felt it was very typical of Vegas that every car was for sale and had a price ticket on it (how vulgar). They obviously don't have a 'Trades Descriptions' law in the USA because this museum billed itself as 'the biggest auto museum in the world'. I've been in bigger motor museums in the UK, and the Schlumpf Collection in eastern France is about 10-times bigger!

Also chuffed to get to a good truck-stop, this line-up is just half of one of four lines of trucks, all locked up but with the engines still chugging away.

The only MGs I saw on the road in sixteen days and 2500 miles were a tatty MGB and an immaculate Midget, both in San Francisco. Absolutely superb trip - San Diego, Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Route 66 (Williams, Seligman and Kingsman), Hoover Dam, Vegas, Yosemite, San Fran, Big Sur and LA plus many memorable places in between. The only discord was a pig-ignorant bar-person in the motel at Merced. Apparently she hates the Brits because we don't tip enough. Someone ought to explain to her that in order to get a tip, you first have to give a good service.

June 22nd - NABMC Motorhead 2000 Tour

John Hubbard second from right Met John Hubbard and friends from the North Alabama British Motor Club on their Motorhead 2000 tour of Europe. For a while they were staying quite close to me so we met up at a local pub one evening. Roger Parker was also intending to be there but work commitments got in the way - a shame as it is the third time Roger and I have tried to meet up but failed. Still, had a pleasant evening swapping MG lore with John (and insults with one of his Jaguar pals, sample: "Was Roger coming in an MG, then?" when he didn't show.)

May - New Forest

May is a good time to see the foals Red Squirrel at the Owl Centre Barn Owl in the flying display Bee in a forest glade Beaulieu High Street
and The Montagu Arms pub The workshop of Beaulieu Garage Forecourt of Beaulieu Garage Forest Park Hotel at Brockenhurst in the heart of the forest
So enjoyed the area during the New Forest run last year that we decided to repeat again this year, but free-style so we could spend more time as well as visit places we missed last time. The usual ponies with foals a good half-day at the Owl Centre where as well as the flying displays we were treated to a Red Squirrel (quite a rare sight in England) munching his nuts right in front of us, and a couple of otters. Have you every tried to photograph a couple of young otters playing? They go like quick-silver. Got to Beaulieu village and the garage where they restore classics as well as serve petrol (including 4-star leaded!). While we were there a genuine D-type Jaguar pulled up at the 4-star pump with an enormous backfire driver resplendent in flying helmet and goggles, then shortly after an MGA with driver in flat cap and tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. Very fitting for the area, much of which has seen little modern development for 50 years or more. A superb four days with warm and unbroken sunshine throughout, and 'Bee' performed faultlessly as usual.

April 29th - Scenic Steam

Welshpool and Llanfair steam railway Snowdonia National Park A 130 mile run round mid-Wales taking in Offa's Dyke, the Welshpool and Llanfair steam railway at Llanfair Caereinion, Lake Vrnwy, Snowdonia National Park and Dinas Mawddwy. Wake up to a wet Saturday morning, so hood up, but by the time we get to the start point (eventually, after Driver's navigation error) it is dry. 'Bee' is pinking on the Welsh hills so have to retard the ignition a tad at the railway stop. The distributor I am using is not correct for the engine hence the trial and error in setting and we don't have many hills at home so no pinking.

I'm now using LRP, but don't honestly notice any difference in starting, running or Dieseling to 4-star leaded.


60 miles into a 250 mile round-trip to Liverpool and back in the V8 and she starts missing under load on the motorway. Tach is steady and choke makes no difference so ignition LT and fuel supply seem OK - could be HT - its quite a wet day. Temp gauge and oil pressure are normal so continue gently to the next service area. It isn't until I come right to a halt that I can see steam coming from under the bonnet - bottom hose holed right where the fan passes it - and the engine covered in spray, hence the misfire. AA turn up in about 40 mins and I am on my way later an hour and a bit after that following a repair (and a re-repair) to the hose. Bit doubtful about the ability of the repair to hold but it does - with me keeping the temp right on the 'N' using the electric fan override switch in traffic to keep the pressure down. Pick up some new hoses from Clive Wheatley on the way home - to be told that Unipart no longer make them and the substitutes only last a couple of years. Hose repair lasts the next day as well (local journey) but is weeping next morning. No matter, it is Saturday and only takes a few minutes to change. So impressed with the repair tape I buy a roll from Halfords to carry with me. With the hose off I can see that the fan-belt has cut a 'vee' right through, so the hose must have swollen under pressure (it is very pliable even when cold) and come into contact with the belt rather than the other way round. Fabricate a guard to fit between belt and hose that bolts between an alternator mount and a front cover stud.

An end to the fine weather as April makes up for March.


The fifth fine, mild and sunny weekend in a row. With all this 'pre-season' running I have used up most of the pre-millennium leaded petrol and filled up with LRP today. First impressions? For a brief moment I thought I detected some rough running buy maybe it was just my imagination. Initially I thought the running-on had stopped, but after a couple of runs it is back the same as before. Still, it is 1/4 leaded plus 3/4 LRP so maybe it is early days yet - the tail-pipe is still grey as well.

Got to get new batteries though - needs a 15 minute charge every week now to get her started.

Last week-end checked the dwell, timing and carbs (just half-a-flat richening on the carbs otherwise spot-on) and valve clearances. Bee has always clattered a bit, plus what sounds like a very heavy tappet, but repeated checking and adjusting of the clearances has never made a difference - until this time. I suddenly found whereas with valve 1 fully down valve 8 clearance was correct (15 thou cold) if I turned the engine just a little bit further the gap went up to 21! Valves 6 and 7 were similar but not so big a difference. Adjusting for greatest gap rather than strict rule of nine makes a huge difference to tappet noise - but now I worry that I won't detect VSR until it is too late!

January 1st - a Millennium Run

Start the new Millennium as I mean to go on - with a run Beautiful day - clear blue skies, mild, roads almost dry, any salt from previous cold spells washed away by recent rain - a perfect day for a run to celebrate the new Year/Century/Millennium, but 'Bee' seems to have her own Millenium Bug. Normally a very reliable starter, she just won't go - not a hiccough, nothing, her previous run in November had been uneventful.

Briefly - she's cranking over OK, the LT circuit tests OK with a voltmeter both static and cranking, but the HT seems very erratic when looking at the flashing of the timing light. All the ignition parts were replaced in 1999, there was no dampness and mechanically everything appeared to be OK. The king lead, when removed from the distributor cap and held by the block, was sparking lustily and regularly while cranking., but not when it was back in the cap. The only thing I could think of is that it was sparking to ground as it lies by the brake pipes when in-situ. Repositioned it, cranked again and she roars into life.

Didn't want to waste any more time (2pm and dying light by this time) so loaded up the tools (including voltmeter and timing light) and mobile phone and enjoyed myself tooling round Warwickshire for an hour or so - and 'Bee' never missed a beat. Swapped waves with an AC Cobra en-route, and was ignored by a Sunbeam Alpine.

Next day 'Bee' started as normal, but I must do some more investigation into that king lead.