• CAR #MGB-GT / #MGB / #MG /
    Run by Greg MacLeman
    Owned since July 2013
    Total mileage 62,494
    Miles since July
    2016 report 1795
    Latest costs £379


    I’m surprised that I haven’t received any hate mail over the past two years. Every time I write about my MG’s knackered clutch (and take absolutely no steps towards sorting the problem), I’m sure most of you are frothing with frustration. I was starting to get the same feeling from the lads in the office, too, and with a trip to the Le Mans Classic looming – and the memories of last time’s horrific journey home still resh in my mind – I eventually relented and let Martin Port fix it. He was by far the most vocal, so I assumed he’d run out of things to do to his Land-Rover.

    I dropped the car at his in-laws’ place with the trip to Le Mans just a week away, and we got to work draining the coolant. Or we would have, had there been any in the radiator. Port was unimpressed. Just days before, the car had failed to proceed when a leaking heater control valve shorted the distributor and left me stranded at the side of the M25. Despite a valiant effort from AA patrolman Jamie – not to mention an entire roll of radiator repair tape – the B wound up getting a lift home on the recovery truck. I raided Martin’s parts bin and had it working again within an hour – albeit forgetting to top up the radiator…

    After hours of enduring my help – I managed to get a spanner stuck against the block while undoing an engine-mount bolt – we had all the ancillaries removed and the engine ready to be lifted free. The coal fires of the C&SC website don’t stoke themselves, however, so I had to dash back to the office before we got to the exciting bit. Imagine my surprise when, just a couple of hours later, I got a text from Martin with a picture of the brand-new clutch fitted, and the engine ready to be dropped back into place.

    I couldn’t wait to collect the car and see what it would be like to finally drive it without the constant fear that it would refuse to go into gear at traffic lights. My enthusiasm was tempered after seeing the MG parked at Thatcham station. Or rather, the stream of oil sluicing onto the hard-standing beneath. Hopes that it was just a case of being overfilled were later dashed, and we suspected that it was coming from the crankshaft oil seal – even though you can’t get to it without taking off the flywheel.

    The only possible explanation – having spoken to a few experts – is that pulling the end of the output shaft out of the spigot bush has revealed some wear and disturbed it enough for it to start leaking.

    A couple of miles behind the wheel confirmed that a few drops of oil was a price worth paying. It ran like a dream, slotting through the gears beautifully and not once resisting being returned to neutral.

    Faith restored, it was all set for the convoy to La Sarthe alongside the Landie, Citroën GSA and Triumph 2.5PI – plus, among almost 20 others on the C&SC Reader Run, the beautiful Bentley T1 of James Millar – and the altogether more care-worn Volvo T5R of Mark Dunscombe.

    Past trips to the continent have yielded fantastic tales for these pages, from changing fuel pumps in the pitch-black Ardennes to limping for hours on three cylinders and threadbare tyres, but this journey was blissfully uneventful – the MGB simply rolled along for mile after trouble-free mile. At this rate, I might have to buy something else to complain about.

    THANKS TO Beech Hill Garage: 0118 988 4774; www.beechhillgarage.com The long-suffering Martin Port

    Day one, 4pm: Port has removed the engine and sets about taking off the old clutch. By 5:30pm, he’d replaced the pipework, too.

    MacLeman trying to stay out of Port’s way. The new clutch was sourced via Beech Hill. Clutch release bearing was replaced, too. Fresh pipe from master cylinder to slave. Coolant leak shorted distributor on M25. Essential preparations for the Le Mans trip.
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