Barely 1200 miles in Bee this year, 2200 in Vee, and 1700 in the ZS since July. Very few miles last winter as so few sunny Sundays, a terrible June/July, several trips cancelled due to various reasons, and Vee substituted for Bee for the Snowdon Run in August again due to bad weather. Before Spring I'm planning to get the sump off Vee to look at her big-end and main-bearing shells and crank, and see if there is any evidence of loose liners causing her tapping. Also change the gearbox and rear axle oil and clean the OD filters in both cars.

September 28th-30th, Wales Walking Weekend, The Arans.

Back to Snowdonia, with new rear springs following the last trip a few weeks ago. A good cross-country trip on the way up, with some of the others moaning about traffic on the M6. Walked the Arans this time from Llanuwchlln back to Dinas Mawddwy and the climbing hut, about 10 miles and 2600 feet of ascent. Saturday dull, cold near the tops, but the mist cleared and sun came out shortly before we reached the peak so got some spectacular views down into the valleys on the east side. From Aran Fawddwy (short of the magic 3000 by just 31 feet) it is downhill all the way to Cwm Cywarch and really tough on the knees. We'd left the cars at the start so the drivers went back to pick them up. I'd noticed a mountain road almost directly between the two, the others opted to go the very long dog-leg main road back saying it would be longer but quicker. I opted for the mountain road and had a great drive, getting back quite a bit earlier than the others, even though I had stopped to take some pictures of the Aran range half-way. Dolgellau Precipice Walk on the Sunday morning for a leisurely couple of hours, then back home, via the M54 and M6 this time.

300 miles almost exactly. No problems as such, but I noticed on the way back a couple of times when I was decelerating and switched out OD I could feel a surging as if OD was switching in and out, or possibly the OD was slipping and gripping. It's well overdue for an oil and filter change which I was planning to do anyway, so I'll see what it's like after that. Vee has always used a bit of water, but it seems to have increased a bit lately, I topped up before departure but on return it had probably dropped a couple of inches in the 300 miles. Have to go round all the hoses checking tightness.

September 23rd, Beacons Run, Swansea. Another one bites the dust as again we shall be elsewhere, this time our 3rd Grandson's First Birthday, but at least we will be travelling in the ZS on a 240 mile or so trip.

September 11, Classic Meet, Wythall.

Last of the evening meets for this year, and we are having a spell of good weather so a great turn-out. There must have been 3-400 cars and 100 bikes and a very eclectic mix. Two VW Bentleys plus another from the 20s or 30s, several Camarros and Mustangs and an American Police car complete with lights an sirens, kit cars, funny cars, as well as whole host of European machinery ancient and modern, and something that looked like an escapee from Mad Max.

September 3rd, Dukeries Run, Notts and Derbs. With the cancellations and traumas so far this year, dare we risk this one? No. Another one bites the dust as the Navigator is still suffering from the virus 4 weeks later.

August 19th, Snowdon Run. Was to have been the Tees Valley Trail on July 29th and a trip over the Transporter Bridge, but other family events got in the way. Maybe next year.

No pictures, as I forgot to take the camera! As the weather was forecast to be (and was) so dire we thought 'Oh well, never mind, nothing worth taking anyway" - or so we thought.

We only decided to go at the last minute as the Navigator had been pretty ill with a virus for over a week. Another last-minute decision was to go in Vee which is slightly more comfortable for the Navigator, you can see more scenery than from Bee with the hood up, and the hotel had no parking so the car was on the street overnight. In the event the West Shore of Llandudno is very quiet so no problems with the car. Saturday journey up wasn't as wet as we were expecting, although the traffic on the A5 was very busy. We actually got off that at Chirk and did one of our 'B-Road Britain' routes from home to the Shrewsbury by-pass and from Chirk to Llandudno. Saturday afternoon saw us strolling along the West Shore beach in classic 'British Summer' mode i.e. brolly up in warm drizzle.

Sunday morning was far worse - blowing a gale and driving drizzle, felt sorry for the poor Marshals standing out in it for several hours. Didn't hang around much at the start, weather not conducive to strolling along the prom looking at all the other cars. Filled up at a Shell station just outside Llandudno that was very busy, although with 'regular' traffic more than MGs. To a customers comment the chap on the till said there were 190-odd of us and the customer said "I didn't know there were that many left" - little does he know! Only our second time on this run but again we found ourselves on a single-track road between Llanrwst and the A5 just north of Betws-y-coed, and again it was chaos with local traffic trying to come the other way against nearly 200 MGs. Came to a complete standstill at one point behind another V8, and noticed it was steaming quite a bit. Then it started steaming a lot and out they got and up went the bonnet. Fortunately we were by one of the few bits of grass big enough to pull off out of the way, so I stopped as well to see if I could help. "No fans", he said, and a couple of minutes later I had diagnosed the Otter switch as failed. Left them to move the wire from the switch to some convenient earth somewhere so the fans would be running albeit full-time, and for it to cool down (you could hear the coolant boiling). Unless his temp gauge was faulty as well he really should have pulled over and switched off sooner.

A bit later between Capel Curig and Beddgelert I suddenly realised we were going to pass the hut where we stayed for the Snowdon climb last June, and stopped at a view point right above the hut to show the Navigator. Certainly couldn't see anything of the mountain, but the torrents of water rushing down all the hillsides in the vicinity, and the white-water rapids that the streams had become, were pretty spectacular. At one point near the junction with the Llanberis pass the hillsides were invisible, but you could see the torrents of white water appearing to come out of the sky - very spooky.

Shortly after that near Porthmadog was a very steep and twisty section, right at the beginning of which was a 'ping' from the back that I could feel through my seat. I didn't fancy stopping on a 1 in 2 with dozens behind me and no space to pass unless I really had to, so with nothing else untoward we pressed on. It wasn't until several miles later when we finally got on the straight and level at Pwllheli that I noticed the steering wheel was turned about 15 degrees to the right ... Pulled off the road and walked round the car, noticed the right rear wheel was a long way back in the arch, and looking underneath found the main leaf broken just in front of the U-bolts! Initially an 'Oh my gawd' moment, but then I realised that if we had completed the rest of that 4 miles or so section plus another 20 miles it couldn't be that much of a show-stopper. Nevertheless I couldn't risk any more mountainous sections and there was still another 30 miles of the route to go, we were about as far away from home as we could be (150 miles), but rather that wait hours for AA Relay we decided to head for home there and then keeping to main roads, as much to be able to tell the AA where we were in the event of total failure as reduce the stress on the remainder of the spring. In the event the rear shackle at full stretch was preventing the axle from going any further back and fouling the back of the wheel arch (a design feature?), so moving the big toolbox from over that spring to the passenger footwell to reduce the load, and with very gentle use of throttle, braking and steering (did wonders for the mpg) we got home with no further drama. To add insult to injury just as we started for home the sun started coming out and the car dried out, but then got greyer and greyer as we got closer to home, to find heavy rain on the M5 and M42 and the car soaking wet again. Took these pics next day.

So 348 miles and a broken spring, but it's the first serious problem in all these years and tens of thousands of miles, and it could have been worse. Now to struggle getting the old springs off, and finding new ones to the correct spec, but that is a subject for another page. Update: Amazingly everything came undone and off easily, the first time I'd touched them. New springs spot-on for ride height, so subsequently I changed the fronts as well.

July 16th, Noggin and Natter, Fleur De Lys, Lowsonford, Warwickshire

Quite a few there, considering the thunderstorm only a couple of hours previously. First visit to a classic event for the ZS, with Keith in his Midget (which eventually passed its MOT with a bit of welding and the engine still seems to be fine).

July 9th-13th, Passchendaele 90th Anniversary, Belgium

I wouldn't normally have included this as it was a coach tour and not in any of the MGs, but one of our fellow travellers has a very definite MG connection. David was chief engineer at Laycocks many years ago and was responsible for designing the gearbox, overdrive and Banjo axle for the forthcoming MGB. Subsequently he moved to BL and was based at Abingdon in the early years of MGB production, then Triumph and Jaguar, finishing up with 22 years at Volvo in Sweden. David has the pristine MGB and TR6 seen above.

July 4th - a ZS180 comes my way

After lusting after a ZS 180 since their launch in 2001, a late 2004 face-lift 4-door in blue comes to the attention of a relative in the trade and becomes mine today. This one really does have my name on it, the three last letters of the registration are my initials - albeit in reverse order.

June - always a sucker for fiddling with MGs, I replace the head gasket on a friends Midget 1500

June 19th - Supercar Trackday!

As a very special birthday present I get to drive a Lamborghini Gallardo, Jaguar XK 4.2, Aston Martin DB9, Porsche 997 Carrera, and a Ferrari 550 Maranello!

June 18th - Noggin and Natter, Black Boy, Knowle, Solihull

Keith (with the barn find) rang and asked if I wanted to go along, in his car so I have a go myself as well as have a couple of pints. Who could refuse? Only a handful of cars and bikes turned out, not surprising given the wet weather earlier in the day, but the evening was beautiful - sunny, still and warm. The GT clutch slipping quite noticeably in 4th when it gets warm, and slightly in 3rd as well, so it looks like a clutch replacement in the not too distant future. But before that I'll be changing his Midget head gasket.

June - a 'barn find' back to life

Got a call from acquaintance Keith (who has a Midget) to say he was about to buy a non-running (fuel pump and clutch not working) 1978 GT which had been garaged for at least four years and would I help him get it home and running? Ooooh, that's a hard one! On the appointed day we went round to the vendor in his van with my tools, ready to tow it back to his house. The ignition came on OK, but no pump clicking. Easy to get at on a rubber bumper under the spare wheel cover to whipped off the metal and plastic covers to check the voltage at the pump first and that was fine. It's a points type (he had tried bashing it previously) so I just used a screwdriver to poke at the points and when I bridged them the solenoid operated, so it was just points. When I pulled the screwdriver away the solenoid released again, and that was all. So I held the screwdriver just bridging the gap, acting like the points, and it chattered away. Eventually I could remove the screwdriver and it chattered away all on its own, but still didn't fill the fuel filter. Pulled the delivery pipe off the front carb and I could feel some slight pressure there, but blocking it didn't stop the pump, just slowed it down a bit. There wasn't a lot of point in doing any more on the vendors drive and I didn't want to risk damaging his nice tarmac with my jack and axle stands, so we towed it back to Keith's house. The tow rope looked plenty long when he just started to take the strain, but by the time we got on the main road and were doing nearly 30 mph it suddenly seemed very short! But we got back with no dramas.

Once there I could get under it and with a bit of a struggle got the pump off, and fitted my spare. Turned on the ignition, pump chattered away, filter started filling, pump slowed down and stopped. Choke out and turned the key to 'start', and after very few cranks it burst into life! One problem was a leak from the pump, which I wasn't surprised at as one of the fibre washers had stuck and ripped a bit getting the old pump off. But I disconnected the pump wire and ran the engine till it emptied the float chambers, and soon after that it stopped dripping so was safe.

Next we had a look at the clutch. The master was full, but the slave piston was hardly moving at all when the pedal was pumped, and there was very little pedal resistance of course. Opened the slave nipple and Keith pumped the pedal, but all that came out was a couple of drips and lots of gurgling. Wasn't sure whether that meant a faulty master or not, and changing it would be an expensive way to find out it wasn't, so I decided to try bleeding it another way. Some years ago I had to replace the master, slave and flex hose on the V8 and having read so many times how difficult they are to bleed conventionally i.e. from the top, even with a continuous pressure device like a Gunsons EeziBleed, I decided to attack it from another direction and use the Gunsons to reverse fill the system by connecting it to the slave nipple and using very low air pressure. That worked a treat and gave me the full travel straightway, but since then I'd read others had clamped the slave piston all the way into the cylinder and bled successfully that way. Tried that, but no different. I'd also seen another recommendation of connecting a caliper nipple to the slave nipple and using the brake pedal to reverse fill or bleed the clutch. Really off the wall, but its quirkiness appealed to me, so that was what we tried next. I siphoned all the fluid I could out of the clutch master, interconnected the clutch and right-hand caliper, opened both nipples, and Keith pumped gently (too vigorous and you'll blow the pipe off one of the nipples) until the clutch master was nearly full. Being a 78 model with the large plastic brake reservoir this hardly lowered the level at all, but you would need to be more careful with the earlier metal reservoir or risk having bleed the brakes as well! With the nipples tightened back up Keith pumped the pedal, and the slave piston looked to have the correct travel of about 1/2". I started the engine again and tentatively selected reverse, and it went in sweet as a nut with no grinding. Later when the car was back down on its wheels I tested the biting point and it seemed fine i.e. not too near the floor, although it did seem a bit higher than I was used to. Another success, and probably less time to achieve than it has taken me to write about it!

With an MOT in mind we checked the lights, and the column switches were flopping around all over the place. Removed the cowling and reseated the switch assembly on its notch on the column and tightened the screw, and that seemed fine as well, the indicators were even flashing without the engine running, so the connections were obviously all good. The hazard flasher was working as well, but only the right side. Fiddling with the switch in the 'on' position got them to work occasionally, but not reliably enough, so I took the switch home along with the pump to see if I could resurrect them. Opened up the switch and cleaned the contacts, and although it was better it still occasionally wouldn't light the one side, so in the end we decided to spring for a new switch and be done with it. I dismantled the pump and found nothing wrong with the one-way valves, but did discover the bolt securing the air chamber cover wasn't even finger-tight. Removed and refaced the points - they were well pitted. Reassembled, reset the points, did a dry test and it seemed fine. Next day Keith had got the new switch and some fibre washers for the fuel pump so I went round and swapped the pumps over. Switched on, carbs charged up, engine started, no leaks, so another success. Fitted the new switch and blow me if it didn't have the same problem as before, but this time it only happened once and worked fine every other time we tried it so we left it as it was. It's now down to Keith to book an MOT, whilst underneath I'd been looking round and everything looked fine to me, but I thought there was no way it was going to pass the emissions test, at least.

A couple of days later Keith rings me to say it passed the MOT - emissions and all! He was well chuffed, and no wonder since he got the car for less than a song, nobbut a few notes. After that he'd taxed it and taken it for a spin, and says he thinks the clutch is slipping a bit just in 4th gear, which is the classic indication of a clutch on its last legs. Like I said above it did occur to be that the biting point was a little higher than I was used to. But no matter, he's not planning to thrash it round, so will live with it for a bit while he decides how much time and effort to spend on titivating it. Next job for me is to install the fuses for the fuel pump and OD, neither of which are fused, and shorting of these circuits (particularly the gear-lever mounted OD switch) is not unknown which can cause serious harness damage.

June 3rd, New Forest Run

What a glorious weekend! Sunny and warm for the journey down, too warm for coats, and it was T-shirts by afternoon. We travelled via Dorset to see T.E Lawrence's cottage retreat at Clouds Hill where he more or less ended his days, and St Nicholas' Church, Moreton where he is buried. I was surprised at the amount of interest being shown, there must have been half-a-dozen other cars at the cottage, and probably 25 or more at Moreton, which isn't even a hamlet, just the church, a tea-room, and a couple of cottages. Dorset is a very under-rated county, countryside as good as Devon and Somerset, but with little tourism.

Staying at the Forest Park in Brockenhurst for the fifth time (3rd time on the run), and at least as good as we remembered if not better. In the heart of the forest, with beautiful grounds, and wonderful food. Sunday for the run was even better - T-shirts all day and very warm in the afternoon. A totally rural (although avoiding Lyndhurst on a sunny Sunday is recommended) run ranging over a large part of the forest areas for 80 miles. Started from Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum near New Milton via several scenic locations in the forest, plus places like Bucklers Hard, Beaulieu (originally beo-ley from the Saxon for 'bee meadow', and misspellt by the Normans (i.e. 'French') when compiling the Domesday Book, it is also spelt 'Bewly' on the original charter in Beaulieu House), and finishing at Exbury Gardens where we had been planning to visit at some time anyway. All very well organised by Southampton and New Forest MG Owners Club as usual.

Still sunny and warm at Brockenhurst Monday morning but didn't take long to cloud up and get cooler. Jumpers on at Salisbury, and coats on at Chippenham, only for the sun to come out shortly after. Lost the OD again on the way home but this time it was simply one of the wires had fallen off the OD switch, so easily replaced at some traffic lights while still belted in. Other than that Bee performed faultlessly as usual, 457 dry and mostly sunny and warm miles.

May - V8 Exhaust Manifolds: Always had problems with these, and one has been ticking slightly for some time. In the last few weeks it has suddenly got much worse and the MOT is due at the end of the month, so time for another go at them. See the story at 'Engine' and click on 'V8 Exhaust Manifolds'. Vee passed her MOT, but the mechanic rather surprised me by saying how good the handbrake was - 'usually they are rubbish'. Now I do clean and lubricate all the linkages annually, but I still didn't think it was good enough to comment on (he hasn't done so before). On the way home I tried pulling it on while moving and sure enough it did lock at least one of the back wheels, but the road surface was wet and it isn't something I do very often. Makes me wonder now whether I have a leaking rear wheel cylinder which is making the shoe grab and lock ... but no, it is both sides that are locking and both sides are dry.

May 6th, Tamar Valley Silver Jubilee Run

After weeks of sunshine and warm weather it was a bit of a disappointment to find the weather getting colder and cloudier, and rain forecast for the Sunday. The journey down was very cold in the morning, but as we stopped for lunch (at Westbury White Horse, one of 10 in the area, but a bit of a con as it is concrete painted white) the sun finally started to break through and get warmer, and the afternoon was a very pleasant run the rest of the way to our overnight stop. Sunday was grey and mizzling as we had breakfast but with an edge to the cloud, and by the time we left for the start it had stopped so the hood came down, and by the time the run got underway they were breaks in the cloud and the weather just got better and better, only clouding up again after the (delicious) cream tea at the finish, and coming on to rain when we got back to the B&B.

The run was superb - wending our way up the Devon side of the valley via places like Denham Bridge (very scenic with views of an amazing private garden just upstream of the bridge, Brent Tor and Lydford Gorge, crossing into Cornwall at Horsebridge, and finishing up at Sterts Theatre at Upton Cross. The verges and hedgerows were a riot of colour with blue, white, yellow and pink wild flowers for virtually the whole route. Brent Tor was amazing - a 'working' church perched high up on the top of the rock with superb views of Dartmoor and its western valleys. It's quite a steep climb up to the church on foot, and as I say it is 'working' with services, flowers and hymn books laid out on the pews. Amused to see the following notice in the entrance "Evensong 6:30, if wet in village hall". Lydford Gorge consists of two circular short walks to White Ladies waterfall at one end and The Devils Cauldron (best seen immediately after heavy rain) at the other, with a mile (each way) valley walk between the two. Because of time restraints we opted to do the two short walks and use the car to get from one to the other. After Horsebridge the roads became very narrow, steep and winding and quite challenging. Very well organised by John Hunt (no relation), excellent instructions with lots of additional information about places we passed through.

I'm sure we have never met such a friendly bunch of people as those in the Tamar Valley MGOC, and it was nice to see lots on non-MGs on the run. As soon as we arrived people came up and chatted about this and that, and at each of the stops we met more and more people. They were amazed (and very pleased) that someone had come as far, and took a picture of us at Brent Tor for the report of the run in their magazine. Just as friendly were people in the pub we stopped at for a drink around lunchtime, and at our overnight stop for two nights. This was The Weary Friar, its web site doesn't do it justice. As well as the owners and staff being very friendly and attentive the rooms were clean and comfortable and the food and drink (Press Gang cider!) excellent. Right next to the church in a very attractive village, situated on a ridge with superb views down into the valleys both sides. A definite future stop!

Monday for the journey home was wet so the hood stayed up and we opted to take the quick route home straight up the M5. Two bouts of torrential rain round Bristol but nothing leaked from round the windscreen, just blowing in between the glass and edge of the hood by the Navigators left shoulder, but not mine. Got drier and showery as we headed further north, and Bee was almost dry by the time we arrived home at 1:30pm, with sunshine and breezes to dry her out during the rest of the afternoon. 550 miles, the only problem was one of the struts for the windstop broke on the way down, the navigators side this time, jury-rigged it using the handle off my second jack and some wire. The alloy just can't take the battering especially when it is windy, so it needs something stronger. I had a look in B&Q and was surprised to see lots of different steel tubing and bars, and for a couple of quid and a few hours work have knocked up an alternative, with loads to spare for the other side when that needs it.

April: Service time for Bee. Finally got round to tracking down a much-vaunted Volvo oil filter, they and Mann filters are reputed to have better anti-drainback valves. I've been using Unipart and Champion filters for years without any problem, but a few years ago someone mentioned both those suddenly seemed to have started draining back pretty-well instantly. Then a certain club started advertising Fram filters with an improved valve, so I got several of those. Suddenly started noticing an increased time to get any pressure on Bee after a week or so idle, so wasn't impressed with the Fram. But I can use the others on Vee as she has the filter suspended rather than inverted as on Bee. Went back to Champion on Bee last year, only to find I was still getting the long delay. Hence the Volvo filter this year. I used exactly the same process this year as every other - drained oil, removed old filter, oiled O-ring on new filter, carefully started the threads, spun on and hand-tightened. When the oil had finished draining I replaced the plug and refilled. Started up, watched the gauge for pressure, then ambled round the front to check for any drips. Horrified to find a pool of oil on the floor and splashes all over the engine! Hurriedly switched off, and thought a bit. I hadn't actually seen any oil coming out, so I didn't know where it was coming from. So I decided to start the engine again whilst watching from the side ready to switch off ... only to find no leak. The only thing I can think of is that the O-ring moved when I hand-tightened, which allowed some oil to leak, then the pressure built up pushing the seal into place again, stopping the leak. I loosened and retightened the filter again, and since then including a 30 mile run (complete with spare filter, chain wrench and 5L of oil!) it has been fine. Never had anything like this before in 50-60 MGB oil filters, and goodness knows how many others. Ironic given that it is a supposedly 'high quality' filter. As to drain-back, time will tell. Everything else looks OK, including the dwell, still at 51 degrees well within the 50 +- 5 degrees.

February: Missed Stoneleigh this year as we were elsewhere that weekend. Also didn't manage to get round to looking at Vee's big-ends, or getting Bee's chrome spokes changed over winter. Maybe during this year. I did have another go at locating the source of the hot tapping, but all to no avail. I removed the rocker covers while it was making the noise and again wedged a feeler gauge between each rocker and its valve in case the clearance was too great for the tappet to take up, but it made no difference to the sound when pushing it in (which should have made it quieter if it was too much clearance) or pulling it out (which should have made it noisier if it were anything else to do with the valve gear. I also used a long screwdriver as a 'listening stick' on each rocker and pushrod but while some seemed slightly noisier than others, and only one was tapping, it was all very inconclusive. Since then my MOT man has said he had a Range Rover that did the same thing, and changing the oil pump gears cured it, even though the pressure was OK! So that is another possibility, I suppose.