The View from Behind the Wheel, By Dennis Blevins
I know, I know - but let’s just get this “new year” grind out of the way and move on. Here goes……….
Jeez! Here we are in January already. The holidays are past, it’s a new year, and a new decade. I trust that you have made your resolutions and are holding fast to them. Don’t give up so quickly. So many exciting things to look forward to this time of year – doing all those little tasks in the garage to prep your LBC for the upcoming driving season – and that includes perusing the parts catalogs to find just the right toys for YOU, not the grandkids, starting to plan road trips for later in the year, possible ice storms or blizzards, your daily dose of ten hours of daylight and fourteen of darkness, and it’s a big election year – for club officers. It’s never too soon to prepare your campaign speeches. (Really folks – we just have four officers and two board members – surely out of the one-hundred and ten plus members there are six that would be willing to fill these spots.)
Ok – enough of that and on to other things…….
As the club president and being our “webmaster”, I get questions pertaining to our “hobby” from an assortment of folks – club members and non-members – on a semi-regular basis. These range anywhere from “Who do your members get their parts from?”, “What body and paint shop does the best job?” “Are they inexpensive?” “Fast?” (Ah – quality of work, timeliness completing jobs, cost. Pick any two – the other is out the window.) “The transmission on my ____ pops out of second after a downshift – what could be wrong with it?” Obviously – I’m not going to make any recommendations – just suggestions, usually given as multiple choice. And for things beyond my realm of expertise (which includes most things!), I have my “go to” contacts that I forward these questions onto for their advice. And the greater number of “experts” that I can reach out to, it will be more likely that the response will provide a better solution. If you’d like to be added to my “go to” list just let me know and be sure to mention your area of expertise.
One such recent question was “Who can true up spoke wheels here in Lancaster?” The short answer is “No one”! But the question intrigued me. There must be someone, somewhere. Apparently not anywhere “nearby”. The closest that I (we) found was K&T Vintage Sports Cars in Bethlehem, PA. Here’s their answer. “We do this type of work but there are limitations. Replacing spokes is not a problem. Adjusting and truing the rim is a problem on painted wheels. Usually the spokes are rusted fast and are difficult to get free. If we use heat or wrenches on the nipples the paint gets chipped and the wheels should be re-sandblasted and painted. There may be a lot of time involved which gets costly. Chrome wheels with stainless spokes eliminate that problem. In most cases shaving the tire on the wheel will solve all the problems and is much less expensive”. Huh! I’d heard of shaving tires for race cars in order to make the tires perfectly round no matter if the wheel was slightly out of round, but never for “street” cars. Well, I guess! (K & T did invite the club to come see a demonstration, but that IS a road trip. Any takers?)
Annual Banquet – December 2019, By Steve Dellinger, Photos by Steve Dellinger
The annual LANCO MG Club Holiday Banquet was held at the Fireside Tavern, Strasburg, PA on Saturday, December 1st with approximately 50 members in attendance.
What are They Looking At?
As the Club did last year, a donation was made to a local charity. This year, a contribution was made to Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services (KPETS), Karen Gerth’s pet-related charity. KPETS is an all-volunteer organization that provides pet therapy teams to all kinds of settings. Karen and her assistant, Kody were in attendance to accept the donation.
Kody in action!
Kody in action, part 2!
Kody and Karen accept a big check!
Service awards for the year included the following:
Years of service in the Club:
35 Years of Service
Joan and Tim Martin
Carol and Michael Schmuck
30 Years of Service
25 Years of Service
20 Years of Service
Barb and Stephen Weaver
15 Years of Service
Mary Lynne and Tom Naples
10 Years of Service
Suzette and Trent Bentzel
Joan and Tim Martin – 35 Years
Mark Anderson and Ed Manbeck - 25 Years
Cor Engelen – 10 Years
Dennis expressed recognition for last year’s meeting hosts, as well as for the numerous ”A Taste of Britain” Volunteers, and other Event and Club Volunteers. Special “thanks” were also given to the following members:
Board of Directors & Officers
Dennis Blevins – WEB Master
Skip Partlow – Photography
Ann Partlow – Photography File Manager!!
Larry Ciarrocca - Membership
Coffee, Cars and Conversation – Steve Dellinger, Charlie Baldwin, Ralph Spayd
Taste of Britain – Larry & Gloria Ciarrocca
August Picnic - Larry Ciarrocca
October Crab Run – Gloria Ciarrocca
The annual “Enthusiast of the Year” Award went to Deb Eckert. This year’s “Most Active New Members” Award went to Diane and Cliff Maurer. The “Award” went to Steve Dellinger – for a failed ignition switch assembly in the Mini and a failed fuel pump in the Midget. A special presentation was also made by Dennis Blevins to Deb Eckert, for determination to drive the “T” to Woody’s in the rain!
“Enthusiast of the Year” – Deb Eckert
“Most Active New Members” – Diane and Cliff Maurer
“Brown Wire Award” – Steve Dellinger
Special Presentation – Deb Eckert
The festivities concluded with Joan Martin making some interesting twists to some classic Dr. Seuss books.
Story Time with Joan
Another enjoyable end to a successful year!
January 2020 CC&C , By Steve Dellinger, Photos by Steve Dellinger
The January 4th (edition of Coffee, Cars and Conversation was held on a cool and cloudy morning at the Columbia Burger King with seven members in attendance. The dedicated “CC&Cers” included Mike Williams, Charlie Baldwin, Pam Preston, Gloria Ciarrocca, Kent Williamson, Deb Eckert and Steve Dellinger. Kent drove the MGB-GT and Deb drove the TC (of course!), while Pam and Steve showed up in their new MINIs. One and one-half hours were spent discussing numerous club-related (and numerous “not-club-related”) topics. There was some discussion about varying the location(s) of future CC&C get-togethers – but no decision was made.
British Cars in the Lot
The TC is here!
January 2020 Club Meeting, By Steve Dellinger
Returning President Dennis Blevins convened the first membership meeting of the New Year at the Centerville Diner in Lancaster, with twenty-one members in attendance. Six British Cars were also in attendance. Minutes from the November 2019 meeting were distributed, and the Treasurer provided a report on the Club’s current finances.
Most of the discussion during the meeting focused on the scheduling of events for the year. We will be holding our membership meetings at the Centerville Diner from January through April this year. Dennis asked for suggestions for other locations to hold club meetings later in the year. In addition to regularly scheduled Club meetings and events, and the monthly Coffee, Cars and Conversation, several possible road trips were discussed, including a covered bridge tour and a poker run. Other day trips and longer (overnight) trips were also discussed.
Charles Schutte Body Company, By Steve Dellinger, Photo by Steve Dellinger
On Saturday, December 14th, LANCO members Tim Martin, Charlie Baldwin, Gary Trautman and Steve Dellinger attended the monthly meeting of the Millersville Area Historical Society. The guest speaker for the meeting was Lancaster realtor, well-known automotive historian and freelance writer Bill Rothermel. In the early days of car building, the cities of York, Lancaster and Reading all had car builders and associated operations. Bill’s presentation was on coach-built cars, and specifically the operation of the Charles Schutte Body Company, which operated in Lancaster City from 1916-1930. The company started on East Marion Street in Lancaster and around 1920 built a new, “modern” facility at 616 South West End Avenue (which is located two blocks from Steve Dellinger’s house). The factory closed its doors sometime before 1930. Bill’s presentation included lots of historical facts, as well as vintage photographs of Schutte-built cars and the factory. After the Schutte factory closed, the building became an umbrella factory, and then was renovated into an apartment house in the late 70s or early 80s.
Bill Rothermel talks Schutte
The lowly MG TF, By Cliff Maurer
At the end of World War II England was bankrupt. They had fought two World Wars in 40 years and the last one for six straight years. Being an island nation without raw materials they had relied on their colonial empire for both raw materials and a customer base.
So, the British government needed some way to crank up their factories and sell the production overseas. They decided cars would be the answer. They went to the car manufacturers and told them they would get them the steel IF they exported the cars. No time to work up new designs using any new technology gleaned from the war effort. In 1939, just before the war began, the MG car company had revamped the front suspension of their old model roadster (basically a 1936 design) the MG TA. They renamed it the MG TB. Very few were made before WWII started and production halted. The people at MG took that TB model, made a few changes and began building the MG TC.
Back in the US returning GI’s were looking for cars. Bidding wars erupted at car dealers. But what the US car dealers were offering were big steel tanks. If you have ever driven a 1948 Dodge or Chevy, you know what I mean. Big, slow to get up to speed, slow to stop and it wanted to keep going in a straight line. Those ex GI’s remembered those little nimble roadsters that were zipping around the little twisty roads of England and when they became available in 1946 the American love affair with the English roadster was born.
The TC was manufactured until replaced by the model TD in 1950, which offered left hand drive for the first time, and sales took off. 80% of all production was shipped to North America. But by 1952 the competition had overtaken them. Production dropped from 10,800 cars in 1952 to 6500 in 1953. Also, MG had been purchased by the British Motor Corp (BMC) which also owned the Austin, Austin Healy and Riley cars. The people at MG had been working on a new more modern design, what we would come to know as the MGA, but the management at BMC said NO! They were going to introduce the Austin Healey and didn’t want competition.
So, while John Thornley, the Managing Director of MG, was off on a two week holiday the MG works director and three workers took a TD chassis and banged out sheet metal for an improved car. Only the bonnet, wings, gas tank and dashboard had been changed. Barrie Jones, a world expert in TF’s, in his little book “Barrie’s Notes” suggests that the idea of the wings (fenders) with integrated headlamps came from the Riley RMA, but I’ve seen the pre-war Squire roadster in the Simeone Foundation and the line of that car looks much like a TF. Thornley approved. The new MG TF was introduced at the Earls Court Motor show in Sept 1954.
Response was lukewarm. It’s competition, the triumph TR2 and the Austin Healy 100 were modern full sheet metal bodies with more modern drivetrains. They were capable of 100+ MPH while the TF claimed 85 MPH. I own one, maybe 85 in a highly tuned model. Remember we started this story in 1936. The TF body was still made like that 1936 body. It is referred to as a coach-built body meaning it has a wooden frame. So, offering the TF to the public in the face of its competition was like offering a flip phone in competition with an iPhone 10! Sales didn’t go well. Production started in late ’53 but ended in April ’55 with only a total of 9600 units being built. There was an attempt to get more horsepower out of that 1934 engine design by upping the engine from 1250 cc to 1500 cc. The last 3400 TF’s manufactured had these larger engines. They have a ‘1500’ medallion on the side bonnet.
So, a sad story of perhaps too old of a technology being offered too long and we would expect that this car should have passed into history.
Fast forward 65 years and go to Facebook and find groups associated with MG’s. Look at the pictures and notice how many TF’s there are! Especially pics of those with the 1500 emblem on the bonnet side signifying that it is one of those last 3400. They are so rare and so admired that Hagerty puts $4500 additional value on a TF with a 1500+ motor.
Last June at a local car show in Hellertown PA, with 150+ British cars, there in a line were 3 TF 1500’s! That’s .1% of all production. Sixty-Five years later! How many are still out there? Barrie Jones told me his register has “3052 MG TF’s worldwide of which 1043 are TF 1500’s”. At the Taste of Britain car show in Lancaster County this year a professional photographer spent an hour taking shots of my TF! It is a camera magnet.
Why so popular and appreciated now when it was looked down on when it was produced? Look at the cars in your garage. They have the same overall shape as a sneaker or a bar of soap. But those big wings (fenders) of the TF look so Art Deco. It’s real style. We don’t own these cars because of their technology but because of their style. And after 65 years they are still real head turners.
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