Run by James Page
Owned since June 2014
Total mileage 96,319
Miles since September
2017 report 315
Latest costs £550
MUCH ADO ABOUT GEARCHANGING
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; www.autoclassico.co.uk / 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.