31st December 2002

Just when I thought this year had nothing more to offer ...

Had trouble starting the V8 today which ended up being the distributor cap tracking. The battery was nearly flat to begin with (but that is another problem and still under guarantee, looks like a dickey cell) but cranking with jump leads was still no go. I used my adjustable timing light as a diagnostic and found no HT at the coil lead even though it was the cap that was at fault and not the coil. However using the old-fashioned in-line light the same fault allows the light to flash. Interest piqued, I dug into it a bit further and consequently wrote the 'Timing Light' section of my Ignition page.

Having got where I wanted to go I parked up and set the alarm as normal, then returned to hear the proximity buzzer sounding-off constantly even though there is no-one near the car. The last couple of times I parked the car I came back to find the full 'son et lumiere' had gone off on its own, which is usually a sign of a failing cell. Whether this new problem is caused by the battery getting worse only time will tell.

In summary ...

So around 3000 miles in Bee this year and about 4000 in Vee, with probably just a few sunny Sunday mornings to get the paper before the end of the year. Only a leaky heater valve on Bee during the year, with new brake pads and a clonk in the steering/front suspension to be investigated over the winter. But Vee's cooling system is a much bigger issue and still being dealt with, and she needs replacement front and rear wing lower sections. Roger Parker gave me a short SD1 engine he 'just happened to have lying around' so that is a prospect for a rebuild as opinion is that there my be terminal problems with my block - a shame as it is the original. So the question is, do I rebuild Rogers to MG spec or SD1 ...

October 11th-13th - New Forest

Asian Otters waiting for lunch of dead chicks ... Obliging harvest mouse poses for me right in front of the glass.
Badgers in their sett.  Viewed from a window in a dark room I didn't want to use flash
this was a hand-held 5 sec exposure. Monarch of the ... New Forest
Tawny owls for the Navigator Lynx hungry for his lunch of whole chicken ...
Wild boar family
Pretty dull driving down on the Friday, but after very heavy rain overnight (first opportunity to use the hood cover I bought two years ago) wall-to-wall sunshine on the Saturday. Visited the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park, which doesn't cover the half of it as they have badgers, foxes, deer, a lynx, wallabies, and boar as well. All in very natural settings of the local woodland, so much so that the fences around the large compounds are barely visible.

In the afternoon we went to the coast at Calshot where the Solent meets Southampton Water. Calshot Castle and the hangers where the Supermarine Spitfire Schneider Trophy winner and the Short Sunderland flying boats were based that are now home to the Calshot Activities Centre for many watersports, rock climbing, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, archery etc.

Our fourth year at The Forest Park hotel, very comfortable, relaxing, and with a superb restaurant. We've seen ponies and cattle grazing right outside the front door before, but this year we had a sow and seven piglets gobbling up the acorns that fell in the heavy rain on Friday night. Woke on Sunday to more rain, which followed us all the way home, culminating in some pretty torrential stuff for the last dozen miles. Oh well, Bee hadn't got wet since May, it had to come some time.

355 trouble-free miles (water entry notwithstanding) and still no running-on, so I think I can claim my mod to prevent running-on a success. Also a success was MkI of the WindStop.

September 22nd - Happy Birthday 'Bee', 30 years old (build date) today.

September 20th - Happy Birthday MGB, 40 years old today.

September 17th

Andy Preston from California, an ex-Brummie and not been back for 17 years, drops by to kick tyres and have a look at Bee and Vee. Andy has four MGs including a show-winning 1974 chrome-bumper GT, and a 67 roadster that was featured on the cover of the official magazine of the MG Club of Germany in 2012.

August 31st-September 2nd - Memorial Run round WWII airfields in Norfolk

Jaguar Strike aircraft entered service 1973.  MGB KWD630L entered service 1973.

War graves near the end of Coltishall runway.

Lunch-time stop

Little Bomber Group museum between Topcroft and Earsham

Lined up on the taxiway at the finish ...

... the view from the control tower.

Finishers trophy.

Our first experience of this event and overall a very good one, we intend to return as each year alternates between Norfolk and Suffolk, and even in Norfolk we only visited a small number of the WWII places of interest.

Travelled to Norwich on the Saturday to be fresh for the run on Sunday, then travelled back home again on the Monday. Quite boring journeys each way as there are no motorways and very few B roads so all the traffic is on the A roads and a lot of that is lorries. Opted to take the Northern loop from Northampton to Norwich via Peterborough on the way there, but a lot of that leg was through the ultra-flat fens full of potato fields and precious little else. Norwich ring-road traffic was diabolical on the Saturday, kept well away after that. Returned on the southern loop via Cambridge, which was more scenic, even the greater traffic on the dual-carriageways wasn't any big deal. Very limited as to hotels in the Norwich area ended up at one right in the middle of Wroxham (a bit 'fish'n'chips and four-letter words'). Hotel car park was a bit of a disaster - only seven spaces and open on two sides to a shopping precinct and a pay-and-display car park. Rather worried about how Bee would fare each night, but both times we managed to get the same spot, hidden from public view behind a bigger car. Still glad to find all was well each morning.

The event itself was excellent, a superb job done by Terry Elvy and his helpers of the Norwich MGOC and had about 270 mainly MG entries but also quite a few other classic and performance vehicles. Started from RAF Coltishall complete with armed guards checking identities on the way in, bacon butties and coffee prepared by RAF Catering staff, and an official RAF photograph (use of mobile phones and personal cameras on the base being banned) in front of a Jaguar Strike aircraft. This was particularly interesting to me as the Jaguar entered service with the RAF in 1973 which was the year Bee was first registered. This September is also the 40th anniversary of the MGB, and the 30th anniversary since Bee was manufactured.

The route was about 90 miles of pretty villages, very English countryside, a number of memorials to USAAF bomber groups and personnel, and several wartime airfields varying from those that had been completely taken over by agriculture to Seething which is still operational in a small way and has a packed museum in the old control tower. The finish was at Seething, where we were handed a smart finishers trophy and lined up down one of the old runways, which made a fine sight from the balcony of the Control Tower. One of the really nice touches was a set of appendices in the route book giving a bit of history about many of the significant places en route.

Almost unbroken sunshine for the three days, 470 trouble-free miles, and still no Dieseling.

August 24th - Cider Chase in Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Sunny arrival at the Hopton Arms
near Ledbury Flagged away from the Hopton Arms Broome Farm cider makers A little cool en route to the start, and damp roads evidence of some heavy showers on the way home, but warm, dry and sunny for the 90-odd miles through some beautiful Herefordshire countryside. Visits to Weston's to stock up on Old Rosie, Dunkertons and Broome Farm cider makers and Frome Valley and Broadfield Court vineyards - plenty of tasting for the Navigator, obviously not enough since we didn't get lost.

200 trouble-free miles altogether, and still no Dieseling.

July 27th-29th - Pendle Run, Lancashire/Yorkshire Dales

Skipton canals Stocks Reservoir
near the border of Lancashire and West Yorkshire
setting for the fictional village of Ormston in BBC TV's 'Born and Bred' Taking over The Old Stone Trough
Finisher's Plate
'Phew, what a scorcher' as the tabloids might say. Three glorious days (even though the morning cloud took longer to clear than the 'forecasters' kept saying). Great journey to and from Skipton (our base for the weekend) through the Peak district and Pennines, crossing and re-crossing the Pennine Way. Burnley and Pendle MG Club did a fantastic job of organising the event including being able to make a donation of 500 to a local hospice. And the route was superb, 80 miles of border moors, dales and villages. Definitely one for a future visit.

394 trouble-free, and very warm, miles. Also my latest attempt at preventing runon seems to be successful, only one slight cough on one occasion over the three days after driving various distances under various conditions.

June 15th/16th - Le Mans

Neil and a couple of friends Sunning ourselves before the start Pre-race Cavalcade Pre-race Cavalcade Pre-race Cavalcade Pre-race Cavalcade The traditional pit-side assembly before lining up on the grid This is it - formation lap before the rolling start High hopes ... ... mixing it with the Audis ... ... and ahead of the Bentley Morgan has a long stop just after the start but comes back out to cheers and plods on to the end Yes
that is a rat on his shoulder Dunlop Bridge and Esses Dunlop Bridge and Esses Dunlop Bridge and Esses Dunlop Bridge and Esses Dunlop Bridge and Esses Between the Esses and Tertre Rouge
very close to the track and a sense of the real speed of the cars Tertre Rouge looking down the long straight to Mulsanne
way out of sight Brake lights into the Esses from Dunlop Bridge The pits by night Pre-dawn
and the remaining MG is still running ... ... but not for long.  Very soon after this it stopped out on the circuit Calais ferry terminal.  Time to replenish my water and have a look at Neil's hot-starting problem Ready for boarding the Sea Cat at Calais Two of the Cavalcade Bentleys at Calais The White Cliffs of Dover.  Just a long
congested crawl to home to go
With V8 Mate Neil Cotty again. Very warm this year, not like last years '24 Heures Du Mud' as Neil quipped. Really great to see the MGs running 3rd and 5th at one point very disappointing to see them drop out one by one, I expected much better from Lola this year after last years 'practice' and a whole 12 months of development. Perhaps they should have gone for a class win instead of a podium. Originally thought it was going to be a 3-year operation overheard the team manager saying 'I'm sure MG will be back at some time in the future" which must put a 3rd attempt in doubt. Even sadder, and possibly confirmation of no 3rd year, was the fact that the team removed their pit boards from above the garages while the race was still on. Also heard that the organisers are to change the rules for next year so that runners in lesser classes have no chance of beating entries in the 'top' class on the track.

My V8 has a bit of a problem with the cooling system at the moment - I spent nearly 1000 miles driving with one eye on the temperature gauge, one on a cooling system pressure gauge I have temporarily installed, and another on a water level indicator. Probably explains why I jumped a couple of red lights along the way. Had to make a few unscheduled stops to move coolant from the expansion and catch tanks back into the rad, but only lost about 3/4 litre altogether (I was carrying 2 gallons just in case!). Managed to keep up to the speed limits (i.e. slightly slower than normal) except from Le Mans to Chartres on a very hot Sunday afternoon after the race ditto from Calais to Solihull - but by that time I was loaded up with wine and spirits as well. Neils V8 is having hot starting problems, which meant that every time we stopped he had to keep his running or by the time I was ready to get underway again he couldn't start his.

The moderate speeds and gentle throttle gave me an average economy of over 31mpg for the 964 miles, and an amazing 322 miles and over 34mpg on the last tankful.

May 2nd-7th - MG Ireland Kenmare Co. Kerry.

Fishguard Bay
departure point for Rosslare Dungarvan Harbour
en-route from Rosslare to Kenmare Superb beaches on the Dingle peninsula Superb beaches of the Dingle peninsula and Kerry Superb beaches of the Dingle peninsula and Kerry One horse-power - a slower pace than an MG Pretty village of Sneem on the Ring of Kerry Derrynane
Ring of Kerry Ferry from Valencia Island to Reenard Molls Gap - a beautiful day for the journey back across Ireland We opted for the Fishguard-Rosslare crossing to avoid the long overnighter and enjoy more of Ireland. Extremely annoyed to have someone not just open but slam their door open onto the front wing of the roadster on the ferry and put a 1/8" dent in the stainless strip. Even more annoyed as there were only four cars on the deck all crammed into one corner. Kenmare is a very pleasant small town with more restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Saturday we were warned that the Irish Lakes rally was in the area, some roads were closed as special stages, and we should swap the Saturday and Sunday runs over. We did, but needed to get past the rally anyway so went over the mountains the Ring of Kerry goes round and found ourselves on a special stage jut before the rally came through! A bit annoyed to find that even more roads were closed on the Sunday (plus thousand of loonies in Novas with straight-through exhausts) and we would probably have been better off sticking to the original plan. Half way back across Ireland on the Monday stopped for a tea break and noticed water running from under the car - the heater tap was dripping onto the distributor. Still plenty of water in the rad so carried on checking less and less frequently as it didn't seem to be losing much. Filled up the rad Tuesday morning after our overnight in Fishguard and hardly seemed to lose any more during the (very wet) run across Wales, Hereford and Worcestershire to Solihull. When I removed the dizzie cap when changing the heater valve I was amazed to see it full of water as the engine hadn't missed a beat all through.

1080 almost trouble-free miles, weather pretty good but not as good as last year.

April 21st - Kimber Run

Masson Mill - an Arkwright masterpiece Spinning and weaving shed There are not many occasions when the words 'sunny', 'warm' and 'April Kimber Run' can be found in the same sentence but they were this year, we've had snow in past years. Although the morning was quite cold with a few spots of rain from time-to-time the afternoon was superb, as was the Masson Mill route - well done Chesterfield MG and MGOC. 220-odd miles (80 each way and 60 on the run). On the way back noticed a misfire that seemed independent of throttle opening or load, tach was steady so it wasn't ignition LT. Pulled the choke out and it cleared, pushed it back and it stayed cleared for the rest of the journey. Hmmm.


Last year on the roadster I noticed some rust 'worms' burrowing under the paint from one point below the bright trim on one front wing, also a small bulge and crack in the paint under one of the tail-light assemblies. I suspected that the front was emanating from one of the trim fixing holes, but no, it was from the seam between the upper and lower halves of the wing between two trim fixing holes. Dug it out and repainted as best I could. At the rear it was exactly as I suspected - the new metal I had welded over the corroded original 12 years ago had rusted through, but the corrosion in the original metal didn't seem to have advanced at all! Again dug out, treated and repainted as best I could, if it happens again I shall have to cut-out and replace that rear 'hull'.


After helping out a V8 mate on an electrical problem with his twin electric fans I decided to have a look at my own. Found I was losing nearly 3v at one fan and over 2v at the other. A PO had replaced some of the spade connectors but only crimped and not soldered them, so fixed those. Was losing about 1v in the relay so replaced that at Stoneleigh. Also added a earth strap from each fan connector to where its mounting bolted to the body. Only losing about 0.5v to each fan now, and most of that is in the relatively long runs of wiring - they take a heavy current. Lucas 6RA relays are a bit of a minefield - there are 12v and 6v varieties, 3 terminal and 4, constant and intermittent duty, make and break contacts - over 40 in all. Fans need a constant duty relay, and intermittent gets very hot in a short time, so be warned. Bear in mind that a relay carrying a heavy current for a long time i.e. twin cooling fans can also get hot if the relay contacts are bad.