Run by James Page
Owned since June 2014
Total mileage 94,940
Miles since May 2016
Latest costs nil
MURKY COCKTAIL BUBBLES OVER
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