2008

September - Bee's heat control has always been stiff and is either getting worse or I'm getting weaker, so time for an investigation. After sorting that Vee's wipers decided to stop working, so time for some groping behind the dash.

August 28th - Classic Car Meet, Moat House Inn, Alcester

A very pleasant evening after some dire weather earlier in the week, and a good turnout. Nights drawing in now, but driving home in the dark top-down has a certain something. Next and final Alcester meet for this year is on September 25th.

August 24th - MGCC Yorkshire Dales Run

A really good weekend. Very good weather for the journey up on the Saturday, although as we were at speed (most of the time, must have spent half an hour getting past Stoke for no apparent reason!) on the M6 we had the hood up. Stopped off at Turbary Woods Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary just south of Preston. We have not come across people as enthusiastic as these, they are all volunteers, and the entry charge is very reasonable. There was a great flying display that lasted a couple of hours, and we spent most the afternoon there until we had to press-on to our accommodation. We stayed at The Devonshire Arms at Cracoe just south of Grassington which was excellent. The food was absolutely delicious, the rooms very modern clean and comfortable, and the staff really friendly and helpful. Definitely a place to recommend. Saturday night it tipped it down for hours, for some reason I didn't put the cockpit cover on, and Bee's carpets were a bit wet next morning. Still showering quite heavily until just after the off, but then the sun came out, the hoods came down, and the rest of the day was glorious. Another dry day for the trip home Monday, but again a lot of high-speed running in blustery conditions so hood up. Called in at some friends near Sheffield on the way home, the M1 and A38 were much clearer than the M6 had been.

With the exception of a couple of places we had a completely different route to the 2006 MGOC Dales Trail, so between the two we have now covered the Dales end to end. Route book a lot less formal than the usual MGOC runs, which was surprising, but we muddled round without making any mistakes. About half way round we came to the Ribblehead Viaduct, which we were pleased to see, then turned off towards Dent with dire warnings of very poor road surfaces and risk of grounding, and boy was there! I've never seen a road like it. Single track, and with all vehicles running over the same narrow strips of tarmac the tracks had sunk over time and pushed up the middle and outer edges, sometimes to over a foot above the wheel tracks, and they had had to 'scalp' the middle to lower it a bit to make it passable at all. As it was we could only get through by driving on the middle and one edge, which wasn't too difficult with the relatively narrow track of the classic MGs. Great fun though, together with some really steep and twisty bits, and some fabulous views across the valleys. Excellent finish location at Thorpe Perrow Arboretum, which as well as being a very nice place for a cup of tea and a stroll through the woods in the warm sunshine, also has a Bird of Prey Centre with more excellent flying displays, the icing on the cake being that the Navigator got to wear the glove and have a Barn Owl perch on her, to her delight.

470 mostly dry and sunny miles, and no problems. Not even any spokes broken despite the road surfaces, hills and hairpins in some places. I've only had one break since I started replacing them myself this year, whereas last year I was getting at least one and sometimes two or three per trip. Most odd.

August 4th - a major milestone for Vee

The clock went back to 00000 today - for the 2nd time! So Vee has done 200k on the original engine, with just one rebore getting on for 100k ago. I've done quite a few decent journeys in her just lately - some 1200 miles in just four trips and she really likes it, I've had no clicking and tapping since the start of the first one although I know it will start again when she gets into a run of short trips again. Over winter I'll probably investigate the big ends and main bearings, see if thread lock on the bottom of the cylinder liners will stop the tapping (a third opinion now is that it is loose liners) and take a view on a rebore and crank regrind even though when I did the top-end a couple of years ago I could still see the honing marks over most of the bore surfaces.

August 3rd, VSCC Prescott

After not having visited Prescott since 2002 due to a combination of the BOC Classic Meeting being split into two one-day events so unless you pay double to visit both days you only get to see half the cars, and the VSCC event in 2006 being an expensive 25 per person (apparently a conscious decision by the VSCC to make more money at the expense of limiting numbers rather than putting on bigger events), this year we were the very grateful recipients of two tickets for both days from one of the competitors. Mike Tebbett has recently bought an MGB and he contacted me to say some of the information on this website had been useful to him. He is a competitor and offered me his two 'mechanics' passes as otherwise they would have been unused, and we gratefully accepted, duly receiving two wristbands like for the funfair.

This is the 70th Anniversary of the first visit of the VSCC to Prescott in 1938, quite an achievement. As in 2006 (where we just drove past) the sheer numbers of campers and cars parked in at least two overflow fields was amazing, and when we got to the Orchard car park an even more stunning sight greeted us: The field was full of veteran cars of all types, most in beautiful condition, ranging from the tiniest Austins to the largest American barges, including a row of more than a dozen Astons and a fair clutch of MGs - and these were just the spectators cars. Lots more delights in the competitors paddock, including Mike's own Donnet, a marque I hadn't come across before and as far as I could tell the only one there. Wikipedia has a page on the marque and interestingly says one of their best cars was the 2540 six-cylinder side-valve, which is what Mike has. He also has an Amilcar and a Traction Avant and all are road-worthy, driving to Prescott in the Donnet. The competitors ranged from tiny Austin 7s to monster Edwardian with aero engines and the outrageous Napier Bentley of 24 litres who must have left more rubber on the track than all the others put together.

A very lucky Austin 7 driver just after the post-lunch restart, he came tanking towards the cross-over (the short circuit was in use), I had just said to the Navigator "He's going for it" when he did a quarter spin anti-clockwise, his front wheel dug into the grass bank, flipped the car up and over, landed upside down with him still in the car and his head hitting the tarmac, then continued to roll throwing him out like a rag doll. The driver sat up, looked around as if to say "Where ... What ..." then waved to show he was OK. Needless to say he was put in an ambulance and hopefully taken to hospital for a full checkover and observation. As I say he was very, very lucky, what we saw was very similar to period film footage where the outcome was often fatal. There was quite a long break while the Marshalls put cement dust on what was probably an oil-trail stretching several hundred yards, which led me to think maybe he had an oil leak, his engine seized locking the rear wheels, hence the spin. But they treated the tarmac past the scene of the accident up towards Pardon hairpin, so I can only assume a previous car (there had only been two) had laid the oil and this driver skidded on it. As it was right in front of at least two Marshall's posts it's a shame they hadn't spotted it earlier.

Weather not bad, it was supposed to be the better of the two days but after a heavy downpour about 9am Saturday the rest of the day was lovely, whereas Sunday was sort of the other way round with the morning better, the afternoon cloudy, and a heavy shower on our way home. A mere hop, skip and jump at 90 miles and Bee ran as well as usual.

July 12th-14th - Louth Area MGOC Viking Run, Lincolnshire

A really good weekend and not just for the run. For a start we had three days with just a few drops of rain, something of a record for recent weeks, with so much immediately before that it caused the cancellation of the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford (of which more later) for the first time ever. Staying near Coningsby, home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and our fifth or six visit to the airfield in the hopes of seeing some action from the flight. On our first visit in 2004 (on a Friday, note the hanger and visitor centre are closed at weekends) the weather was bad so all flying had been cancelled, but the silver lining in that particular cloud is that we got to see all the aircraft in the hanger. Called round again that Sunday after the run, but nothing doing. On our next visit in 2005 there was nothing happening on the Friday, and on the Sunday morning on our way home again no flying due to weather but we were treated to two Spitfires doing engine tests at wide throttle openings and the noise and vibration felt on the chest was something to experience. This year was definitely 3rd time lucky! We arrived Saturday lunchtime just in time to see the Dakota, a Hurricane and Spitfire take off for Duxford's 'Flying Legends' event. We watched them taxi away to the North end of the runway then nipped round to a mound at the South end that overlooks the whole airfield in time to see the Spitfire take off and pass right overhead. But the best bit was that these three aircraft and the Memorial Flight three - Lancaster and another Hurricane and Spitfire pair - were due to land again around 4pm on the Sunday, about an hour after we were due to finish the run a couple of miles away! Rather concerned to see on teletext that the first day at Fairford had been cancelled, then in the evening gutted to see Sunday had been cancelled as well due to waterlogged ground which would have been a quagmire for parking and walking around. What about the Memorial Flight? Would they come back that evening? Next morning? Or did they have other events to go to and so would be back at the scheduled time? Nothing we could do but wait and see.

The day dawn bright with high cloud that looked like it would break up during the day like Saturday. Just over 100 cars started out from Louth. We did spend some time on the run stooging around under a large black cloud, but no rain, until we eventually moved out from under into sunshine, and after that it was very sunny and warm. Something like the Norfolk area Memorial Run in that it visited a number of airfields and memorials with WW2 bomber history, with a lunch break at Wickenby and finishing up at Thorpe Camp near Woodhall Spa, which was the home of the Dambuster's 617 Squadron. Impressive memorial in Woodhall Spa, also Petford House (now a hotel) which used to be the Officer's mess and has a lot of photos and memorabilia. Fascinated to see a WW2 radar mast (now a protected building) at Stenigot near Cadwell Park, together with some more recent 'Cold War' radar dishes. A surprising amount to see at Thorpe Camp, including a large model of the Vulcan bomber, one example of which has just been granted an air-worthiness certificate and flown again - now that would be something to see and hear! After that it was over to Coningsby to see what was happening.

Immediately heartened to see crowds of people, and the same timings on the information board. By my reckoning in order to land into the wind they would be coming from the opposite side of the airfield, so I asked the Navigator (who has a thing about Lancasters) whether she wanted to see it land or taxi back to the hanger. Of course she said "Both", so I decided we would go over to the other side, and found just one other car waiting there. A Hurricane arrived just as we were arriving and stopped by the landing lights, the a Spitfire shortly afterwards, both of which didn't come in over the road but turned onto the runway from inside the boundary. A bit disappointing not to have them come right overhead, but I couldn't imagine the Lancaster or Dakota doing the same thing, so we stayed where we were. The Memorial Hurricane and Spitfire came into view, went over to Woodhall Spa and did a mini-display over Petford House, before coming back to the airfield. All the aircraft did a low pass over the hanger and crowds on the other side of the airfield from us and so a bit distant - but then what we had been waiting for! First the Lancaster came right in low over the road and just above my head with its four Merlins purring, I was standing on some bricks so was able to see over the fence and watch it touch down with a couple of chirrups and puffs of smoke. There was still the Dakota to come so we decided to wait for that as well. This time I moved slightly to one side, and as it came in the rear door was open with a crew member in view, the Navigator waved and he waved back - just to us three, as had the pilot in the Lancaster - the Navigator was thrilled to bits, it's a lovely gesture to make those final passes and wave like that just for their fans and not at a 'paid-for' display. After that it was round to the other side of the airfield again, by which time the Lancaster had parked up but never mind, and we waited while they refuelled the single-seaters and pushed them and the Lancaster back into the hanger. What a brilliant day.

After that it was homeward bound, sunny to start with then clouding over but staying dry, saw a couple of traction engine on the way home. 390 trouble-free miles, and some brilliant sights, sounds and photos.

July 8th - Classic Car Meet, Wythall

A beautiful summer evening, a one-off as July is turning out to be as wet as last year. A good crowd, probably about a dozen MGBs or more but only a couple of Midgets. The red Mini wins the prize for 'Wild and Wacky'.

June 26th - Classic Car Meet, Alcester

After sorting out Keith's calipers and emissions to pass the MOT he dragged me out for a drink at the meet that night. Weather was pretty miserable so not many takers but still a good variety of ancient and modern. Does the (modified) V8 belong to anyone that frequents the BBS or mail lists, I wonder?

June 20th-22nd - Ben Nevis.

After five years of fine weather on previous walks I suppose we were well overdue for some bad weather, and boy was it bad. Just about the worst you could get for mid-summer - cloud-base barely off the valley floor, rain, and high winds. This is after seven weeks of good weather (the Scots do like to rub it in) and both the day before and the day after being really good climbing weather. At the top it was blowing a gale with horizontal rain, very cold and visibility only a few yards. At one point we were ascending through a snow field with sheer drops to the left, supposed to be navigating by cairns, but you couldn't see the next one until you were half-way to it so great care was needed. 4406 ft or 1344m isn't particularly high by world standards, but you start from sea-level so that is how much you climb! We chose the Tourist Trail as we are only once-a-year walkers and the weather was so bad, but it is still classed as 'strenuous' and grade 3 to 5. It is a steady slog at pretty much the same steepness for the whole route, the biggest pain being most of it is boulders so no two steps are at the same height, distance or angle so you can't build up a rhythm. My knee lasted until we were 3/4 the way down so not too bad, funnily enough the boulder-stepping seemed to put less strain on it than a path angled steadily downwards. Loads of '3-peaks challengers' going up as we were coming down, they had to get to the top by midnight then try and get some kip in the mini-bus for the long run to Scafell Pike, then the shorter run to Snowdon, to get up and back down again by about 5pm the next day. Some of these looked pretty tired and they were only about 1/4 the way up. One girl was being dragged along by two blokes with a look of absolute desperation on her face - and this was still the first peak! There was no way she was going to make even the first one at that rate.

B&B was very convenient for the town centre (a lot are a couple of miles out) but they made a spectacular cock-up of pretty well everything. Between booking and arriving I phoned to check everything was OK to find they had us booked in for three nights instead of the two I specified in the covering letter with the booking deposit. Then when we arrived they said they hadn't got a booking for us, then said two people with the same name had stayed the previous night, so they cancelled our booking for three single rooms for six people without further ado and re-let the rooms! Fortunately those people hadn't arrived yet, so we insisted they re-instated us and find somewhere else for the others to stay. The night before you have to fill in a form to say what you want for breakfast which I did for two of the rooms, but they somehow lost the form for one of the rooms. Not that it made any difference, they came up with the right number of breakfasts all at the same time. Then major confusion when it came to paying and I said we would each pay our own. 54 per room (2 people) per night, we stayed for two nights, so 54 per person for the two nights - easy enough? Not for them, took about 10 minutes of discussion before they gave up trying to charge each person the room rate and not the per-person rate. First night we ate at the Grog and Gruel in the town - lots of good real ales (surprisingly enough) but the food wasn't very good (maybe the 'gruel' part should have told us that). 2nd night we ate at the Ben Nevis Inn at the foot of the mountain and the food was superb.

Great run in Vee at 867 miles. Steady run up the M6, M74, M8 to cross the Clyde, then single-carriageway A82 to Fort William. Plenty of opportunities for blasting past the tourists over Glen Coe, even so we still averaged over 32mpg on the single-carriageway section and over 35 on the majority dual/motorway section to average over 34mpg in total. No problems as such, except I did notice that when flipping OD out preparing to overtake or slowing for a bend etc. after travelling at speed for a while that it seemed to be hunting between OD and no-OD again, just like it did on the way back from the Wales Walk last year, despite cleaning the filters and changing the oil earlier this year. I had the same passenger, must be him.

June 14th - Vales and Valleys Run, South Wales, Bridgend MGOC.

Another really good weekend. A bit cold travelling down Friday, mostly cloudy with a few spots of rain at Malvern and a bit more at Merthyr Tydfil, needed coats on but hood down all the way. Saturday run was really good, some cloud while driving up the valley from Bridgend round the back of Swansea then dropping down to Llanelli and the Gower but once we got to the coast the weather and views were glorious. Caswell Bay has got to be one of the prettiest beaches and bays there could be, just perfect for children. Quite a small run at about 45 cars, the first few miles were a bit of a convoy as we were flagged off at regular intervals and many of us backed up behind one car travelling rather slowly (bad enough for us, even worse for 'civilians'). It wasn't till the coffee stop we could escape and after that we were largely on our own. Bit of a crawl through Swansea right at the end. We had noticed from the list of runners and riders that most of the runners were local apart from two from Gloucester and ourselves, and at the finishing post we were awarded a bottle of bubbly for being the furthest travelled which was nice, and a first. We also won a raffle prize, only our second in all these years. A very friendly bunch of people, we did plenty of chatting at the start, finish and various places in between.

Weather nearly as good for the journey home, no coat for me, bit chilly past Merthyr again at the highest point, and quite a shower just as we got back over the border but then very warm for the rest of the run home and again hood down all the way. 378 miles without a beat missed. Just one broken spoke, although the windstop strut my side broke for the 2nd time on the way home, so I will replace that one (made out of alloy) as I did the passenger side a couple of years ago which consists of steel tubing and bar and is much stronger.

May 29th, Classic Car Meet, Alcester.

The first half-decent day for a week or more, but by the evening dark clouds were gathering again. I wanted to give Vee a run after working on the wheel bearing so opted to go anyway. In the event it didn't rain on us but did heavily in Solihull just after we left and the roads were swimming on our return. A good variety of cars ancient and modern, and got bitten to death by gnats.

May. Did Vee's service and pre-MOT check and all was well and booked the MOT. Then a couple of days before the MOT I started her up and got a strong smell of petrol, and the bottom of the right-hand carb was wet. Now this is the one I had all the problems with before I discovered the punctured float, so I thought 'not again'. Wiped the bottom dry and turned on the ignition again, but no leak. I really do not like problems like that, especially where petrol is concerned. Checked it the next day and all was well, and again on the day of the MOT and still OK, then a few days later it happened again. This time I could see it seemed to be coming from the link hose between the two carbs where it joined the right-hand carb. By removing the air-box I was able to get access to the worm-clips. Both clips seemed tight in that they couldn't be tightened any more, but I was able to twist the right-hand one on its inlet port whereas I couldn't on the left-hand carb. So I slackened the right-hand one and could see that the 'threads' in the band were chewed at one point which was stopping it being tightened beyond a certain point, which wasn't tight enough. These worm-clips are bound to leak eventually unless they are retightened from time to time as the rubber hose will compress which reduces the pressure of the hose on the port. By comparison the Japanese spring-clip type apply constant tension to the hose, even as the hose compresses with time, and don't need retightening. Unfortunately I didn't have any of the correct size of either type, but the ones on the overflow hoses are the same size so I swapped one of those over as the overflow doesn't normally carry fuel and even when it does it isn't under pressure, and they can be replaced easily. Without splitting the carbs you can't get either type over the hose normally, but at least with the worm-clip type it is possible to fully unscrew them, open them up a bit, hook them over the hose, then reassemble so that is what I did. I also took the opportunity to realign both clips so that they can be tightened from above without any dismantling, rather than having the screw heads pointing backwards as they had been before which means the air-box has to be removed to get at them.

Vee passed her MOT as usual, but a different tester this time from the usual one and he mentioned that the right-hand front wheel had a bit of play in it. Now of course the wheel bearings are supposed to have .002" to .004" end-float set by shims, but when I tried the wheel myself it did seem to have more play than it should. Got the grease cap off and removed the split-pin to find the hub nut was only finger-tight, and tightening it up to 40 ft lb caused it to bind, so the end-float had never been properly set by the last person to go in there. I had a number of spare shims so juggled around until I got the correct setting, so we'll see how that goes.

May 5th - 19th Broadland Heritage Run, North Norfolk

"Perfect Day" is the only thing you could say about the weather - a cloudless blue sky from start to finish, lovely warm day and not too hot. Starting from the Lighthouse Inn at Walcot, near North Walsham, with around 200 cars, however our only glimpse of the sea as the route turned inland shortly after that. But what a run - Blickling Hall which is very reminiscent of Hampton Court Palace with its Tudor chimneys, some glorious villages like Great Massingham, and miles of beautiful countryside, apart from the ends and a couple of stopping places en route I think we hardly saw another car, which is miles better (for us and other road-users) than touring in convoys. At first we though 60 miles was a bit short and soon going to be over as there weren't that many places to stop en route, but then we realised it was going to finish at Sandringham, and what a fabulous place to finish that was! It's probably the best combination of house, grounds and museum we have every visited, and we could have spent several more hours there doing the longer walks. The Route book had a couple of hiccoughs in mileages which seems pretty unusual these days, and although there was some interesting facts and history of some of the places we passed through most weren't actually on the route and unless you could spot the church, for example, from the road or started meandering about it wasn't clear where some of them were. Did anyone find the church and Doric temple at Gunton Hall? The Norfolk Churches site says "I was looking forward to the challenge of this church, because several people had told me how hard it was to find, and I knew someone for whom this was one of the few churches in Norfolk that they'd never visited, simply because they hadn't found it yet.", then takes several paragraphs explaining where it is, which was nowhere near where the route book took us! But no matter, still a great day. On leaving Sandringham we decided to head for the coast instead of back to our accommodation to have a look at some of the Norfolk beaches - and fabulous they were too if pretty windy and cool, very different to inland.

The journey out on the Sunday was pretty dull and spots of rain until we were getting into Norfolk, not enough to have to use the wipers (let alone put the hood up) but it was dirty rain so left spots on newly polished Bee which was rather a shame. Still, the wheels which got the full treatment this time are still twinkling on out return with just a layer of dust. On the way we called in at Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre near Exton especially for the Navigator. Lots of lovely birds, but the loo was dire so we didn't stop for lunch as originally planned but ended up sitting in the car park of a Little Chef, as so often seems to be the case. We stayed at The Plough, Marsham, near Aylsham and can highly recommend it. very friendly owners Roger and Val Stock, spacious and attractive room, clean and modern bathroom, and excellent food and wine. Marco Pierre White stayed there while filming a couple of weeks ago (bet that gave the chef a heart-attack!) and left a very complimentary note in the Guest Book and a photo of himself with the owners.

480 trouble-free miles, and despite nothing more than a few spots of rain on the way out Bee still needs a full wash and brush-up to get rid of the dead flies!

April 20th - Daffodil Run in Staffordshire.

No photos - forgot the camera. Cold wet and windy (forgot the umbrella as well), the worst days weather for weeks, and hood up all the way. As most runs seem to end up with an alias this one was probably 'The Muddy Run' with the weather wet enough to have lots of wet mud on the roads through farm yards and past a couple of building sites but not wet enough to keep the screen clean, in 19 years I don't think I have ever had to use the screen washers in Bee until today. Never mind, a very friendly welcome from Roger and Sue and other members of the Staffordshire MG Enthusiasts. A short but pleasant enough run for us through part of the Peak District National Park from just outside Rugeley to Keddleston Hall near Derby, which was somewhere we hadn't visited before, with plenty of daffodils still in full-bloom en route. Quite an interesting house with some pretty spectacular architecture inside and out. We thought inside the house was cold enough - then we went into the church and that was colder inside than outdoors! Solely dedicated to the Curzon family it has two curious circular wooden covers in the floor near the altar, which when lifted reveal the carved stone heads of a knight and his lady underneath! Apparently they were just above floor level originally, but for some unknown reason the floor level was raised about 12 inches at some time and rather than chop them away the new floor was laid round them. 155 cold wet and windy miles, but Bee performed faultlessly as usual. At least the main roads were dry for the 50 mile run home so Bee was pretty-well dried out by our return. New points show the same dwell and timing as when fitted so hopefully they will be as reliable as the old ones.

This was also the FBHVC 'Drive It Day', an exhortation to get out and drive your classic even if just locally. It happens each year on the Sunday closest to 23rd April, and commemorates the 1000 mile trial organised by the Automobile Club of Great Britain (the forerunner of the Royal Automobile Club) in 1900.

April 13th, Classic Car Meet, Wythall.

Really lucky with the weather for the last Sunday morning classic meet at Wythall given the very showery April weather we have been having. A bit grey when I started out, and a few spots as I arrived, then warm sunshine until I came away.

April 5th.

It seems such an obvious idea but I hadn't come across it until today - children's T-shirts based on the covers of Haynes Manuals, this of the MG Midget for our grandson Byron. It even comes with a mini-Haynes Manual with the care instructions!

April 2nd.

Changed Bee's gearbox and rear axle oil today. The situation with the axle isn't quite as bad as I made out. Due to a faulty gasket I lost much of the oil soon after buying her so drained and refilled as part of fitting a new gasket. Then in 1999 I replaced the axle anyway to finally resolve the tyre rubbing problems following the change from Rostyle wheels to wires. The gearbox had been left a minimum of 19 years and 25k miles, the recommended service interval is 24k miles or 2 years, so well over. With the engine low mileage from short distances requires a duration limit because of a build-up of water and corrosives in the oil, so you get a service interval of 6k or 6 months. In the gearbox there is only the mechanical wear so mileage alone makes for a more sensible controlling factor. Going back to engines if you use your car infrequently but when it does go out it does a minimum of, say, 30 miles, I think you can ignore the time limit and just go by mileage. In fact I change mine annually in both cars, which in practice makes for about 3k miles. Some people fret about whether you should change the oil and filter before laying it up for the winter, so it doesn't have the corrosives lying there all winter, or afterwards and start the running season with fresh oil to get rid of any condensation that might have been picked up over winter. Some get really anal and say it should be done both! Since the same corrosives will be in the oil whether you are using it or not, and any condensation will be burnt off in the first decent run, it probably makes no difference. It is using the car for short periods regularly for short-distance commutes in traffic, where it doesn't get the oil fully up to temperature or get a good run that does the damage. Anyway, back to the gearbox and axle, see the appropriate sections in Rear Axle and Gearbox.

Late March.

Another one-off sunny day so I fit the battery cut-off switch to Bee that I bought at Stoneleigh over a month ago. Vee has had one for some years to stop the alarm flattening the battery when I stopped using her every day. No problems on that score for Bee, but I suddenly felt I should fit one to her as well for safety reasons in case of any shorts on one of the several unfused brown wires. Bad enough if we were driving along having to stop, open the boot, get to the tool box and look for a screwdriver and appropriate spanner, remove the battery cover all before I could cut power all the while with the harness burning merrily. Even worse if it should happen while parked in the garage. Fitted it to the same location as Vee i.e. on the right-hand heel-board where I can get to it easily from the driving seat. See the appropriate section in Electrics.

A couple of days later another one-off sunny day, so I decide to change Bee's points. They have done at least 12k and possibly as much as 15k miles. I've never touched them since I first fitted them, although I check the dwell at every service they have been within tolerance every time, which is why I've never had to touch them. Nevertheless I decided I didn't want to go on until they actually did fail, and I felt I had proved (to my own satisfaction if no one else's) that points aren't the trouble they are made out to be.

Many years ago I read a piece of advice that struck me at the time as being eminently sensible and I have stuck to it every since and recommended it many times. It was "Listen to your car, it is talking to you" where 'listen' means with all your senses i.e. learn how it looks, feels, smells, sounds and if anything changes then investigate it, and there is a good chance are you will have prevented a potential breakdown. As usual I was just glancing round under the bonnet before starting when I noticed a join in the wire to the distributor looked a bit ropey. A closer look revealed that it was hanging on by just two strands of copper wire! When I first got the car this join was just a twisted connection wrapped in tape, which looked a mess. I hadn't got any crimp connectors at the time so I used a screw connector to join them and it has been fine for the past 20 years. In hindsight the weight of the connector, and fact it is only attached to the copper strands and not the insulation, has probably meant that with flapping around under its own weight it has probably been bending the strands back and fore slightly and one by one they have broken. With only two left they would probably have broken in the very near future, and whilst it would only take a couple of minutes to find and fix it could have happened in the pouring rain in the outside lane of a motorway.

Still, not bad for 20 years as I say, and I have now replaced it with a crimp connector, soldered, with heat-shrink tubing over that and about 1/2" of the insulation both sides so it should be good for 40 years now :o)

When I took the old points off there was no sign of any spike and pit, which is surprising as they are the earlier non-sliding type which usually suffer from it, there was just a very slight indentation in the larger fixed contact. I did notice that they were coated in oil or grease from the felt rubbing pad, so whether that had acted as a spark quench I don't know. Then again one would expect oil or grease on the points to be a bad thing, but it's always gone like a train. The old ones were stamped LUCAS, where these are unstamped in a Unipart box marked 'TURKEY'. I hoped that refers to the country and isn't a comment on their quality ...


Early March.

Had a few nice days so changed Vee's rear axle and gearbox/overdrive oil for the first time in my ownership - that's about 14 years and 75k miles I'm ashamed to say, see the appropriate sections in Rear Axle and Gearbox. I have Bee's to do (also not changed in my ownership of 19 years and 25k miles!) together with the normal pre-season service and fettling for both cars, but the weather has gone back to winter for the time being.

February 10th, Classic Car Meet, Wythall.

Got back from a week in sunny Tenerife to really sunny and mild weather in the UK, the only drawback being overnight frosts and so salt on the roads. Sunday was one of the lovely days so worth a trip to the meet, albeit in son's BMW to give that a run rather than either of the MGBs.

January 1st.

Very misty and murky in the morning, but the afternoon was quite bright with some hazy sunshine so an opportunity to give Bee a run. Due to weather and other commitments Bee got very little use after May (Cornwall and Devon) and June (Dorset and Hampshire) last year, still got half a tank from the middle of August! And that was the first fill since June!! Still, give the lie to claims that UK fuel deteriorates in the tank. Hood up (It wasn't that good!) had a run round Earlswood lakes and woods and took this at Lady Lane Wharf.