Car #MG-1300 #BMC
Run by James Page
Owned since June 2014
Total miles 94,314
Miles since January
Latest costs £25
BLOWN GASKET MEANS BOTHER
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.