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  •   James Page reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR #MG-1300 / #MG / #ADO16 / #BMC-ADO16 / #BMC
    Run by James Page
    Owned since June 2014
    Total mileage 96,319
    Miles since September
    2017 report 315
    Latest costs £550


    Back in August, the MG passed its MoT with flying colours. I’d given everything a quick check beforehand, which threw up a couple of things that needed doing. First was the handbrake operation on the nearside rear. Or lack of operation, I should say. I adjusted it so that it felt quite convincing and, while it wasn’t so impressive a couple of days later on the rollers at the #MoT station, it did enough to pass.

    The other job was to replace the brake-light switch. The lamps were a bit feeble, coming to life only when the pedal was some distance into its travel, but a new switch sorted it. Not that the old one gave up without a fight – as is often the case, a five-minute job turned into about 20 minutes as we tried to unscrew the stubborn b… blighter without knackering the pipework.

    With those minor tweaks sorted and a new ticket issued, the MG then had a short period of behaving itself. When a headlight failed, I took the opportunity to convert to halogen units, but time was always against me when it came to various other small annoyances.

    That being the case, I eventually gave up trying to do it myself and took the car to local specialist Autoclassico, which had Jaguar, Aston, Maserati and Lotus projects on the go when I dropped the MG off. My humble saloon still seemed to be a popular visitor, though. Everyone who drove it did the universally recognised ‘bobbing’ motion to describe their progress, bouncing down the road on Hydrolastic suspension and softly sprung seats. As well as a general service and a look at that handbrake, I asked them to investigate its embarrassingly long-standing clutch problem.
    For a while, selecting and deselecting gears had been something of a hit-and-miss affair, although predictably it behaved perfectly during their first test drive. They nonetheless rebuilt the master and slave cylinders. Apparently, the crud in the old fluid was a sight to behold. I went to pick up the car and, for 25 miles or so, it was transformed.

    As part of the thorough fettling, the timing had been checked and the carbs adjusted – even though emissions didn’t officially form part of its MoT, the ever-affable tester at Elberton Garage had remarked that it sounded rich and took a reading that confirmed it. The handbrake was much more effective, too.

    The following day, and buoyed by how well it was running, I went for a random lunchtime drive. After about 10 minutes, the pressure again started to disappear from the clutch pedal and gear selection proved stubborn. Eventually, at a T-junction, it went completely and I couldn’t find anything – the first time that it had reached that stage.

    I checked the master cylinder and it hadn’t lost any fluid, so there was nothing to do beyond calling for recovery. By the time that it arrived (which wasn’t long, despite me initially sending them to Tockington by mistake rather than Tytherington…), gear selection had been restored, but back the car went to the chaps at Autoclassico.

    This time, the diagnosis was that the piston was sticking in the master cylinder – it would be okay for the first few gearchanges, but gradually it wouldn’t return correctly. Given time, it would get there eventually, hence why it had ‘come back’ after 20 minutes or so. Mike at Autoclassico refused on general principle to order one of the plastic master cylinders that are currently on offer, but eventually we found a genuine Lockheed item on eBay. With my credit card recovering in a darkened room and what must surely have been the world’s most expensive master cylinder fitted, the MG was once again back to full health – and seemingly on a rather more permanent basis this time.

    THANKS TO Autoclassico: 0117 956 9115; / Elberton Garage: 01454 414670

    With everything finally sorted – after a return visit to Autoclassico – the MG is back on the road. MG ready for MoT test at Elberton Garage. Recovered, but note bright brake lights! VW rolls by as MG refuses to select gears. A fresh pair of Wipac halogen headlamps. New master solved the gearchange issues.
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  •   James Page reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR #MG-1300 / #MG / #ADO16 / #BMC-ADO16 / #BMC
    Run by James Page
    Owned since June 2014
    Total mileage 94,940
    Miles since May 2016
    report none
    Latest costs nil


    Brown sludge isn’t what you want to see when you remove your car’s radiator cap to check its coolant level. The hope was that it was remnants of oil from its previous head-gasket failure rather than a new problem. I checked the dipstick and the oil-filler cap, but there were no signs of either water getting into the oil or of the oil level dropping. The coolant level, too, was okay.

    The obvious place to start was therefore flushing out the radiator. Removing the radiator was easy, but once it was free it was obvious that assorted rubbish and grime had collected on it. Air-flow must have been minimal, so I applied a little detergent to the muck and then poured hot water over it to loosen it all off. It cleaned up nicely, so I moved on to back-flushing the radiator itself. Not surprisingly, it took some time for the water to run clean, but I left it for a few minutes and eventually it did.

    With the exception of the time we had to wait in a queue for the ferry while en route to the 2014 Le Mans Classic, the MG has never run even remotely warm. Quite the opposite, in fact – despite its horribly bunged-up radiator, the needle never really gets beyond one-third of the way up the gauge. While it was empty of coolant, therefore, I satisfied a quick bout of curiosity and checked that it did indeed have its thermostat in place. It did, but the inspection proved that a new gasket was required.

    The area of chassis that’s usually hidden beneath the radiator was looking scruffy, with peeling underseal, so I scrubbed off the loose bits, wiped it down, and reapplied some Waxoyl to protect it.

    Space is a little tight when putting the side-mounted radiator back in, so I tried a couple of methods, but quickly realised that my ‘brilliant’ shortcuts involving the bottom hose and the fan shroud weren’t going to work. Instead, I settled for doing it the traditional way and actually it wasn’t too hard.

    The fiddly hose went back on easily enough, and the bolt that goes through the bottom of the shroud, and which you have to fit by feel alone, was remarkably faff-free. I refilled it with coolant, fired it up (which is becoming an increasingly long-winded process, but the battery seems to be coping well) and checked for leaks. Nothing from the bottom hose, a little – predictably – from around the thermostat housing, but otherwise all seemed to be as it should.

    With that done, I turned my attention to fitting the rear seatbelts that I got a while ago. The only other time I’ve done this job was on my Morris 1800, which had all the relevant mounting points. It was a doddle. On the MG, though, the central points were there, but there was no sign of the ones in the corners that are needed for the bracket coming down from the retractors. Those corners, a corrosion hot-spot on these cars, comprise metal that is noticeably more recent than 1970, so they could have been replaced without replicating the mounting points.

    It looked as if, as Martin Port put it, I’d have to be getting busy with the drill, but installing belts is obviously something that I’d rather get absolutely right. Probably better for a specialist to take care of that. While everything was out, though, I cleaned up the muck that had collected on the floor, then treated the seat itself to a thorough clean.

    Next up, though, is to get it to Phil Cottrell at Classic Jaguar Replicas to see if he can sort the rough running. Having read Graeme Hurst’s running report this month, it’s tempting to invest in a new electronic distributor and see if that has the same effect as it did on his Mustang. Perhaps it’s simply time to hand it over to someone who would no doubt be somewhat more methodical than that.

    ‘Not surprisingly, it took some time for the water to run clear, but I left it running and eventually it did’

    Underseal was peeling from chassis… …so a new coating of Waxoyl was applied Once removed, rad grime was all too clear Proof that oil and water really don’t mix Rear seats came up nicely for a quick clean Thermostat was in place; gasket crumbling
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  •   James Page reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR: #MG-1300 / #MG / #ADO16 / #BMC-ADO16 / #BMC
    Run by James Page
    Owned since June 2014
    Total mileage 94,940
    Miles since October 2015
    report 512
    Latest costs nil


    After being used as weekend transport to the golf club through the autumn, the MG – like my woods and irons – has been hibernating over the winter. Knowing full well that, when I did dig it out again, I would quite likely face a continuation of last year’s endless niggles, I was still unwilling to subject it to month after month of salty roads. So, when the first signs of spring appeared, out came the battery charger. Despite being started and warmed at regular intervals over the winter, the A-series took a bit of waking up this time. But wake up it did, so I headed off into the countryside to see if all was well.

    As I was checking the tyre pressures at the local garage, a chap stopped to compliment the car and how sweetly it was idling. He then noticed the wing badge: “ British Leyland ? God, they were lousy…” People clearly have long memories. I was reminded of the various non-mechanical jobs that I had intended to sort over the winter, but which I’d never got around to. First is the tear to the driver’s seat base – one of few interior blemishes and so all the more noticeable. Martin Buckley has pointed me in the direction of a local trimmer, so that should soon be sorted.

    The other problem is that the driver’s door is hung in such a way that the upper-rear corner slightly fouls the B-pillar. It’s now reached the point where it’s worn away the paint, so that’ll be another job for Cromhall Refinishing in Thornbury – as will the rust bubble that has appeared on the windscreen surround. That has the potential to be more involved than it looks, but is best sorted as soon as possible. The MG’s still not running quite right, either. Having spent almost countless evenings going through the timing, carbs, points gap and valve clearances, it may be time for a second opinion. Martin Port has suggested that Phil Cottrell at Classic Jaguar Replicas – a man who knows the A-series inside out – would get it sorted in no time. I still reckon that it’s distributorrelated in some way, but no doubt Phil will be able to tell me for sure. It would be good to have it at full strength, because it feels abusive to be driving the 1300 when it’s clearly not right. I’m sure that’s not far off, and then it can once again be loaded up with golf kit on a regular basis.

    After being laid up for the winter, the MG is gracing the roads again but poor running still needs sorting. Window frame has worn paint from pillar. Split in driver’s seat is due to be tackled.
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  •   Ben Koflach reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR #MG-1300 / #MG / #ADO16 / #BMC-ADO16 / #BMC
    Run by James Page
    Owned since June 2014
    Total mileage 95,320
    Miles since June
    report 380
    Latest costs £133


    In June, I took the MG up to Phil and Oli Cottrell at Classic Jaguar Replicas. Phil has years of experience with the A-series engine, so he was confident that he could sort out the ongoing rough running. While the car was there, Oli was going to fit the rear seatbelts that I’ve had for almost as long as I’ve owned it.

    I put some into my Morris 1800, but all the relevant mounting points were there so it was a doddle. With the MG, they weren’t, and if my kids were going to be transported around in it, I wanted the belts to be installed by somebody who knew what they were doing. So, one morning I drove it up the M4 from Thornbury to Bucklebury. Phil reckoned he’d have it sorted in no time, and so it proved.

    It turned out that the distributor wasn’t properly seated against the block because of a random O-ring underneath it. He also went through the points, timing and carburettors to make sure it was all correctly set – I’d fiddled with so many things that all of them were likely to be ‘out’ to some degree, and therefore not helping matters.

    In the meantime, Oli did a neat job with the rear belts, drilling mounting points in each wheelarch and even climbing into the back seat to test them out. At well over six feet tall, he was happy that, if they fitted around him, they’d fit around two small children.

    With the Cottrells decamping to the Le Mans Classic and various work commitments, it was towards the end of July that I was able to pick it up. It now runs much better, showing none of the part-throttle hesitation that it used to. Phil even pointed out that the doorhandles are on upside-down – the nearside one has apparently been fitted to the offside and vice versa.

    I celebrated by taking the car up to the Silverstone Classic, which involved a superb run on one of my favourite routes across the Cotswolds – up to Cirencester, then Bibury, Burford and Chipping Norton, before cutting across to Deddington, Aynho and picking up the A43 for the final few miles.

    The MG charged there and back, but the following morning I feared that it had immediately blotted its copybook again. With the belts in place, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to put Thomas and Jessica in the back for a summer-holiday trip to the cinema. When I turned the key, however, there was nothing.

    With two expectant children standing in the doorway, I didn’t have time for any diagnosis. All I could do was to push the MG down the driveway so that I could retrieve my Citroën Xantia from behind it. Once we got back from seeing Finding Dory, I checked the starter motor, reasoning that the battery was relatively new and recently charged (assuming that all was well with the charging system…) thanks to its Silverstone run. The wiring to the starter was fine, but the whole backplate was slightly loose. I nipped that up, gave the unit itself a couple of taps – more in hope than expectation – and turned the key.

    It fired instantly, which at least meant that I could keep its appointment with the MoT tester a few days later. Elberton Garage is just down the road and everyone there is a classic-car enthusiast.

    Once we’d talked ADO16s for a bit and looked over the elderly Ford fire tender that was next in line after me, the MG emerged with a fresh ticket. The only advisory was a slight handbrake imbalance, which means that the offside-rear drum will shortly be coming off again so that I can sort it out.

    THANKS TO Classic Jaguar Replicas: 0118 971 2091 / Securon: 01454 414670;

    ‘I thought it was the ideal opportunity to take the kids out in it, but when I turned the key there was nothing’

    The 1300 is now freshly MoT’d, running well and set up to ferry around the entire Page family.
    The rear seatbelts have finally been fitted.

    ‘A rose between two thorns’, as Phil generously put it: the MG at Classic Jaguar Replicas.
    The doorhandles should point out, not up. Nervous times: arriving for its MoT test.
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  •   James Page reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    The only problem with the #MG is that, briefly, it ran as sweet as a nut. That is a problem solely because it gave me a frame of reference and, although the car is not exactly running badly at the moment, it is definitely not as healthy as it was during that short period.

    I mentioned last month that I thought it was timing-related. The method for checking the timing is absurd. Instead of working from the crank pulley, there is an inspection hole in the flywheel cover- open it and you can align a fixed pointer with marks on the flywheel itself. Well, you can if you use a mirror.

    Dad and I changed the points, condenser, rotor arm and distributor cap then tackled the timing. It wasn’t easy to see the marks, but we advanced it to what we thought was about 5 degrees BTDC. It ran no better, however, so we retired to consider our options.

    Comedy - it's all in the timing #MG-1300
    Run by James Page
    Owned since June 2014
    Total mileage 94,214
    Miles since September report 82
    Latest costs £50

    A few days later, I was flicking through the handbook and suddenly wondered if the ‘5’ that I had just about made out was part of ‘15’, making the timing far more advanced than it should have been. I taped one of my wife’s vanity mirrors to a screwdriver - she’s very understanding - and tried again. The timing was indeed closer to 15 than 5, so I retarded it to the correct position and set off once more.

    It was still no better. I fitted new plugs, too, plus air filters. Dad remarked that the LT lead to the distributor felt “a bit lively”, and while the exterior wire looked fine, the section inside the distributor was very frayed. I sourced a replacement at Moss and slotted that into place. Dad fitted some extra insulation on the outer wire just in case, then I tested the coil. It was showing 3ohms primary resistance between the LT terminals, and 4.5kohms secondary resistance. According to figures I found online, those seemed to be broadly correct.

    The HT leads look healthy, so for the time being I’m stumped. Port has suggested a specialist near Newbury that has a rolling road and is used to tuning the A-series engine - it feels a bit like admitting defeat, but as I continue to run into dead-ends it’s looking like an increasingly attractive option.
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  •   James Page reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Car #MG-1300 #BMC
    Run by James Page
    Owned since June 2014
    Total miles 94,314
    Miles since January
    report none
    Latest costs £25


    Last month, I recounted the tale of the MG’s suspension woes, which were sorted out via a new displacer fitted by Phil Cottrell. It is a journey of 60 miles or so from his place near Newbury to my home in Bristol, and I set off back down the M4 happy to finally have my ‘new’ car back on the road.

    The mood lasted until just before the Chippenham junction, when specks of dirty water started to appear on the far corner of the windscreen. Following the trail down the nearside wing, I could see that coolant was being sprayed on to the MG’s front panel then up the wing and onto the ’screen.

    The car wasn’t running hot (well, not according to the gauge, which I am assuming is accurate), but I pulled in to Leigh Delamere services anyway. When I opened the bonnet, the engine bay was covered in dirty coolant. My heart sank a little when it soon became clear that this was no split hose – the head gasket had failed. Suddenly, the reason why the A-series hadn’t been running cleanly for a while became clear. A service station is a most civilised place from which to call for help, however, and by the time I’d wandered inside to get something with which to mop up the worst of the mess, the recovery truck had arrived.

    Removing the cylinder head was the easy bit – apart from the fact that it needed a little ‘gentle persuasion’ to part company with the block. Next thing was to ensure that the head didn’t need skimming, so Dad came over with a steel rule and some feeler gauges, and confirmed that all was well. We cleaned up the mating surfaces and replaced not only the head gasket, but also those for the exhaust manifold and carburettors.

    Putting it back together was far more fiddly than taking everything apart, especially when it came to the carbs. Having got them on, we discovered that we had the throttle spindle round the wrong way – the pedal was rock-hard because, in the engine bay, the mechanism was up against its stop. The only solution was to take them off and try again. That job done, the last few bits went together with no problem and the #MG was good to go. Sure enough, it’s now running far better than previously. My only concern is what will go wrong next. Let’s hope that’s the end of any mechanical woes – for a while at least.

    Gasket failed on way home after repairs.
    Reassembly proved trickier than stripping.
    Head off in Page’s garage; thankfully some careful measuring showed that nothing needed skimming.
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