British Marque Articles - 2020
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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The View from Behind the Wheel, By Dennis Blevins
Ah – the dull days of February and March. Especially with all these gray, wet days. Day after day after day. A good blizzard would even be a nice distraction! My weather-related funk has been exacerbated by completely reading through the latest “British Marque”. All those warm-weather clubs having their holiday/year-end dinners and meetings or New Year’s celebrations with top-down driving. Bah!!! One thing about those though – none had a guest as handsome as Kody in attendance! And so polite, too!
Speaking of the “British Marque”, back when the club decided to stop publishing our own newsletter and switching to the British Marque subscriptions there was some well-intentioned grumbling about the differences – less LANCO “stuff” and a lot of “stuff” from other clubs from all corners of the country. The two drivers for the change were simply time and cost. Consider all the effort required to find, write or edit timely articles, format for the printer, label, stamp, and then mail them. Then there was the cost – printing and postage. Both of which increased every year. The concept of the British Marque was a savior in time of need for many, many clubs facing the same issues - getting your own information out without those concerns and also not filling up your publication with copies of old marque “news” or photocopies of other clubs’ event flyers. Yes – most clubs do most of the same things that we do and then report on that, and that can get a bit tedious to go through. But add in different ideas for events from other groups, some tech tips and information, a bit of racing news, and country-wide (free!) classified advertising, and the extreme cost savings, the switch to and continuing reliance on the British Marque is a valid resource.
Now, with the wide-spread use of the Internet and software tools available for that a case can be made clubs preparing their own “on-line” newsletter. Many clubs do – including the MGs of Baltimore and the Susquehanna Valley Jaguar Club. True – the printing and mailing costs are eliminated, but the time and content issues are not. Finding (and keeping) a good, reliable volunteer to be the newsletter editor is nearly impossible. That function is the most time consuming, deadline-oriented position of all the ones for the club. Believe me – Jeff Rutt and I knew – we lived it for over 5 years. And given the fact that LANCO has trouble filling six officer and board member positions every other year don’t expect to see any change in plans for getting our “news” out. If you want to see more content just get something together and get it to Steve Dellinger – he’d love to have more articles to submit for British Marque publication.
February 2020 CC&C, By Steve Dellinger, Photos by Skip Partlow
The February 3rd (edition of Coffee, Cars and Conversation was held on a cool and cloudy morning at the Columbia Burger King with twelve members in attendance. The dedicated “CC&Cers” included Chris Hofmann, James Bowders, Skip Partlow, Charlie Baldwin, Steve Rineer, Brooks Thompson, Rich Trexler, Jack Butler, Gloria and Larry Ciarrocca, Deb Eckert and Steve Dellinger. Forrest drove his MGB-GT and Deb drove the TC (of course!), while James 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 additional discussion about varying the location(s) of future CC&C get-togethers – but again no decision was made.
British Cars in the Lot
Of course, the TC is here!
February 2020 Club Meeting, By Steve Dellinger, Photos by Steve Dellinger
President Dennis Blevins convened the second membership meeting of the New Year at the Centerville Diner in Lancaster, with twenty-seven members in attendance. Seven British Cars were also in attendance. Minutes from the January 2020 meeting were distributed, and the Treasurer provided a report on the Club’s current finances. Larry Ciarrocca provided an update on current club membership and Dennis gave a status update on the website. Steve Dellinger officially received his “Brown Wire” Award for last year’s mechanical difficulties with both of his ’74 cars.
The 2019 "Brown Wire" award is presented to Steve!
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 is looking for other locations to hold club meetings later in the year – any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! In addition to regularly scheduled Club meetings and events, and the monthly Coffee, Cars and Conversation, several events were discussed, including a joint picnic at the Maurers’, a covered bridge tour and a poker run. Other day trips and longer (overnight) trips were also discussed.
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The View from Behind the Wheel by Dennis Blevins
Although all LANCO MG members are aware of this through previous internal Club communications, I must mention this for those within other clubs that we have interacted with over the years. On February 27, 2020, Sally Harbold succumbed to her years-long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Sally shared her husband’s, Jim, love of British cars and was a member of LANCO MG for more than thirty years. She served as president of the club for two separate terms and was also the vice-president more than once and greatly enjoyed planning Club activities and traveling to car shows and events. Great times were had, friendships fostered, and memories made on excursions to the likes of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, Watkins Glen Vintage Race Festival, Stowe Vermont, MGs on the Rocks, NAMGBR national conventions and numerous “local” shows and events. Along with others that have gone before – Norm Wright, Sandy Spayd, Bill Butler and others - our lives have been enriched by their companionship. As past-president Joan Martin stated many years ago – “The cars brought us together, the friendships made there keep us together”. We miss them all.
On to lighter subjects. Although it’s early March and winter surely can’t be over, two things (other than that earth-bound over-sized rodent) indicate that Spring must surely be upon us. The first, here in central Pennsylvania, is the increasing number of days nearing or surpassing the sixty-degree mark and not getting down to freezing temperatures overnight. Is this an indication that the global warming “theory” is true, or just a “normal” swing in the ever-changing cycle of the seasons? We’ll leave that to the experts. The other is the current increase in the number of “sports cars” being offered for sale on the “Bring a Trailer” website. Just a few short weeks ago just a small handful of British cars were listed there in a week’s time. In the past three days there have been twenty! Sellers and buyers must be feeling the itch of Spring Fever. NO – I’m not in the market – I just watch this from time to time for amusement. The variety of marques offered and the prices that the cars sell for (or not!) just amazes me. A ’59 MGA sporting a 3-year, $100,000 restoration sold for $30,000 (seller’s remorse?), a Sunbeam Tiger unsold at $62,500, a ’69 Mini Cooper S “project” unsold at $8,100, an ’08 Jaguar XKR (super-charged) sold for $27,000 (used-car territory), ’70 Lotus Elan sold at $25k.
And since many of us are starting to get the itch from the warmer days (we had a decent turnout of top-down rides out at our March meeting) don’t forget (or be too impatient) to go through that end of winter checklist before hitting the road. All fluids OK? Brakes (including the emergency one) OK? All lights and signals working? Tire pressures good (including the spare!)? And for that matter – How old are your tires (all five of them)? Yes – we’ve heard this over and over and over again. Just because your tires have had less than “X” number of miles put on them in the last 7 or 8 years, if they’re at least that old, even though they look perfect, they’re subject to dry rot and other catastrophic failures and should be replaced. How many times have you seen a car at a show (or for sale) that the owner proudly states that the original spare (40-50-60 years old?) is still in the boot? Are you anxious to take a ride with him with it in use? Though not.
March 2020 CC&C by Steve Dellinger, Photos by Skip Partlow
The March 7th edition of Coffee, Cars and Conversation was held on a cool and cloudy morning at the Columbia Burger King with twenty enthusiasts and six British cars (as well as an Audi, a Mercedes, old VW Bug and an old Volvo station wagon on a rollback) in attendance. The dedicated “CC&Cers” included Chris Hofmann, Skip Partlow, Charlie Baldwin, Steve Rineer, Mike Williams, Rob Shingle, Kent Williamson, Tom Weber, Paul Miller, Emery DeWitt, Joe Lazenby, Ralph Spayd, Rich Trexler, Jack Butler, Gloria and Larry Ciarrocca, Deb Eckert, Rich Roenigk, Mary Ann Berrian, and Steve Dellinger. Due to the better weather, the time was split between breakfast/discussion in the restaurant and time in the parking lot.
The March Crew
Astor and Friends!
Healey and Mini
New “Crew” Member
Morgan and another Mini
March 2020 Club Meeting, by Steve Dellinger, Photos by Gloria Ciarrocca and Steve Dellinger
President Dennis Blevins convened the March 8th membership meeting at the Centerville Diner in Lancaster, with twenty-seven members in attendance. The weather was “good”, so nine British Cars were also in attendance. Club member Liz Haines (from Delaware) was in attendance! Minutes from the February 2020 meeting were distributed, and the Treasurer provided a report on the Club’s current finances. Larry Ciarrocca provided an update on current club membership and the planning of the “A Taste of Britain” show in August.
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 is still looking for other locations to hold club meetings later in the year. The July 12th Club Meeting will be replaced by a multi-club picnic at the Maurers’ in Kutztown. In addition to regularly scheduled Club meetings and events, and the monthly Coffee, Cars and Conversation, several other events were discussed, including a covered bridge tour and a poker run. Other day trips and longer (overnight) trips were also discussed.
“Old” and “New” in the Lot
Great Turnout !
Great Turnout !
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LANCO MG CLUB (04/13/20)
The View from Behind the Wheel By Dennis Blevins
What can be said now that you haven’t already heard or read thousands of times before over the past month or more – and likely well into the future. These are certainly unusual times that none of us have ever lived through in the past or hopefully will never see again. No non-essential travel, “shelter in place” orders, “non-life sustaining” businesses shuttered, forced out of work, and the list goes on and on. So, what to do with yourself and your car(s) during these times while all club activities are being cancelled everywhere? Video-chat with your pals and relatives. Research all kinds of information on the ‘net. (Do you know that a gathering of monkeys is NOT a “congress”, but that is the correct term for a collection of salamanders? That really puts a hole in your thoughts on portions of our governments, doesn’t it!) Maybe it’s time to step up from polishing and waxing your vehicles to applying one of these “new” ceramic coatings. (If you do, be sure to follow the directions carefully.) If nothing else, service that car again including changing the oil and oil filter. What follows is an article from the November 1974 issue of “Hot Rod” magazine on what to do with your waste oil. An oldie, but NOT a goodie. Do NOT do this at home.
Keep checking our website calendar for the latest event scheduling changes, and until we can get together again……
Backyard Oil Disposal
Text & photos by C.J . Baker
From the November 1974 issue of “Hot Rod” magazine
If you enjoy working on cars, you probably change your own oil to save a few bucks. The only problem with changing your own oil is how to dispose or the used oil that you drain from the engine. Since oil will kill any grass or plants that it contacts, you can't just dump it in the yard. Pouring the oil into the sewer isn't the answer either since it makes quite a mess and it fouls up the equipment in the sewage treatment plant. So, if you're concerned about your local environment, here's a neat way to dispose of that old oil.
Select a convenient location in your yard or flower bed and dig a hole about two feet square and two to three feet deep. Fill the hole to within about eight inches of the top with very coarse gravel. Position an 8-inch clay tile as shown and then put another three or four inches of gravel around the base of the tile. Finish filling the hole with dirt that you had dug out. Oil can now be poured into the disposal pit through the tile. The oil then filters through the gravel and gradually soaks into the earth below without disturbing surrounding grass, flowers or plants. The gravel and tile should only cost about $2 and you'll never have to worry about how to dispose of used oil again.
Whitewall Tires By Cliff Maurer
What does one do while stranded in the cabin in a blizzard…or just practicing in home isolation during a pandemic? I was spending an afternoon wandering through social networking sights loking for pictures of Little British Cars. Ocassionally I would see a car sporting White Wall tires! How long ago was that all the rage?
I can remember buying my first car. $400, all the money a college sophomore could garner, bought me a 1957 Studebaker Commander. For those of you that can’t remember what one looked like, not the airplane nose of the early ‘50s but more like a ’55 Chevy. But on steroids. The car needed tires badly, so off I went to the local tire retreader. No whitewalls for two weeks! I drove that car for two weeks on slick tires with the threads showing because my first car was going to have whitewalls on it.
Whatever was the fascination with whitewalls? And who thought up that idea to color the side of the tires white? Well, good old Wikepedia solved the mystery. It seems rubber is naturally white and early cars used natural rubber for their tires, therfore the whole tire was white. But the rubber picked up stains from all the “stuff” on the roads and it was very hard to keep them clean. So the solution was to dye the tread area black. Yes, it wasn’t that somebody came up with idea of white sidewalls rather someone came up with idea of black treads. Over time the white sidewall became narrower and narrower until sometime in the early ‘70s they just disappeared.
Why did we lose our fascination for whitewalls? I can remember thinking cars without them looked cheap. I think the last car I had with a sidewall decoration was a ’69 Pontiac that had a red stripe on the tire. Have you ever considered putting white sidewalls on that LBC in your garage?
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LANCO MG CLUB (05/11/20)
A Prince, Isaac Newton and Lemonade By “The Prince”, Photos by Members of the Kingdom
A little story while you wait patiently for the world to “Reboot”. As I write this it is a freezing day in mid-May so sit by the fire with a warm cup and a comfy throw.
Once upon a time, there lived a handsome Prince and his beautiful Princess. They had a fleet of carriages at their disposal but one of the Prince’s favorites was a little Lemon Yellow MGB. He and the Princess would drive all over the length and breadth of Lancashire in the little Lemon Yellow car.
Lemon Yellow MGB
Quite sadly one day, the Prince accidently used the car in a demonstration of Isaac Newton’s Law of Physics, which states: “two or more identical fermions (particles with half-integer spin) cannot occupy the same quantum state within a quantum system simultaneously”. In laymen’s terms it is stated as” two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time!”. (Authors note. It wasn’t really Newton; it was Wolfgang Pauli. But allow me some poetic license since no one knows Pauli!) In the case of the Prince, his demonstration included the little Lemon Yellow MG and a telephone pole.
Alas, the result turned the car into somewhat of a little yellow “lemon”. So sad. But in every good story there comes a White Knight or at the least a hero in a white hat. And so, our story has a White Knight that just happened to need some parts for an MG he was restoring. So off went the little yellow lemon to the Knight’s garage.
Donor Engine Out
Speed forward in time and the White Knight has almost finished the project, leaving the little yellow car even more of a lemon. Indeed, the White Knight brought a young Princess to see his work with the idea she may like the little Brooklands Green project car. A deal was struck, and the work continued.
Ready for Transplant!
Operation in Progress
Engine is in!
But what of the lonely little yellow lemon. What would be its fate? The White Knight suggested the Princess’s husband take the car to tinker with. No, but that struck a thought - the Princess had a grandson who was saving money for a car when he turned 16. What if the Princess bought the car for her grandson to sell for parts, thus gaining experience and money for the truck he wanted? Yes, and as our story ends, we have turned the little lemon into LEMONADE!
Authors Note: In the immortal words of Jack Webb,” the people in this story are real, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” There is one clue for the reader. On the back of the yellow MGB is a decal which states “The Last Open Road”. The grandson has become enamored with MG’s and we may have found a way to get our youth interested in our LBC’s, GIVE THEM ONE! Or at least access to one Get out there and drive those LBC but practice Vehicular Distancing
Young LBC Enthusiast?
The View from Behind the Wheel By Dennis Blevins
So, here we are, beginning the second full week of May and the ninth week of “sheltering in place” and “social distancing” due to the virus pandemic. Gasoline prices are under two dollars a gallon –lower than it has been in years – and we aren’t to go out anywhere. Car shows and events are dropping like flies – most being cancelled altogether but some getting rescheduled for later in the year on hopes that the virus will be corralled, and the restrictions being lifted. How many times a day to you think about going out for a sit-down meal at your favorite restaurant? And then adding the sobering thought that by the time we can do that, that establishment might be shuttered for good. Strange times, indeed. Oh well, on to other news….
Many of you will remember that back in February of 2015 I had a mishap with our ’77 MGB. Other than to say that yes, utility poles are magnetic, I won’t go into the gory details on that again here – if you are interested go to our club website and look up the February and March “British Marque” articles of that year.
As a result of that accident, the car was “totaled” by the insurance company and I acquired the remains for the salvage auction cost. Although having the space, I did not have the time to keep the wreckage and part it out, so we sold it to fellow LANCO MG member Charlie Baldwin and his compatriot Joe Lazenby. Joe believed that the car looked too good to part out, so an attempt was made to straighten it. But that was not to be – too much pulling pressure caused welds on the other side of the unibody to start to break. Fast forward a few years to this past winter and Cliff and Diane Maurer (also LANCO members) decided it was time to add an MGB to their LBC fleet. A car was found through Charlie and Joe, but it was in need of being brought up to running condition. Alas – they had the perfect donor car on hand for parts – the yellow ’77 B. Among other bits, the engine, radiator and fans, exhaust system, and both the clutch and brake master cylinders were transitioned into Diane’s “new” green MGB. And now that the Maurer’s have their ‘B, our old ’77 B is on the market once again to be a donor or reconstruction candidate for someone else. Cliff’s take on the project? “I’ve gotten my money out of it already just making memories with my grandson”.
Emery’s Blog … By Emery DeWitt, Photos by Emery DeWitt
[NOTE: Emery DeWitt is the author of The Grant Street Garage Blog, which chronicles his ownership of a 1952 MG TD named “Beck” (visit http://emz3cp.blogspot.com/ for the rest of the story.) What follows is an excerpt of his latest blog post.]
Monday, April 27, 2020, Beck TD, Part 60: Replacing the Rear Top Rail
Honestly, when I'm doing something geeky for Beck TD, sometimes the hardest part is deciding the blog post's title. I finally settled on "just the facts, Ma'am" - yes, I replaced the rear top rail. Now to tell you what that is!
At the end of Part 58, after rebuilding the driver's door hinges, I included this picture and noted that it was the first time I had ever driven Beck TD with the top up. But there's something I didn't tell you...
The thing I kept to myself at the end of that celebratory post is that after the drive, the rear edge of the top was no longer attached to the car! The wooden Rear Top Rail, to which the top attaches with screws, was dry-rotted and wouldn't hold the screws anymore.
I sadly removed the top and the interior I had just reinstalled to uncover the top rail. The damage is obvious in the photo below. You can see I first tried to sink dowels into the rail to hold the screws, with abysmal results.
I did some research and was surprised to see that various instructions to replace that rail start with Step 1: remove body from frame. What?? But further examination showed why. The wooden frame of the bodywork is screwed to a superstructure called the Main Side Rails. This detail is hard to read but shows the problem. The wooden top rails on the back and side are screwed to the Main Side Rails, which are welded together in a single continuous piece:
I obviously didn't remove my body from the frame, but I did find an excellent photo on an excellent website: http://www.bobmccluskey.com/. Mr. McCluskey carefully documented his restoration, including this photo that shows how the wooden bodywork frame is assembled on the Main Side Rails.
OK, so if I'm not going to do a full restoration, how do I proceed? I asked my friends on the Volvo-Engined MG Group, and Jake R. responded with the solution I had already decided: cut the wooden rear top rail out, and make a new one in two pieces to reinstall. Now, Jake is an incredible craftsman, and his implementation included carefully fit pieces with a long "scarf joint" that was meticulously glued together. As you'll see, my implementation stays in two pieces, and is screwed together...
But first, I needed to get the old rail out. There were eight screws on each side (although I probably didn't need to remove the ones to the side rails), and they were the rusty originals. Worse yet, they were slotted screws, which are the easiest to strip out when trying to remove. I found a close-fitting screwdriver and pounded it into each screw with 5 or 6 hard hammer blows. That shocked the screw, loosening the rust, and I'm please to say I got all 16 out with no mishaps. I took it as a good omen!
Next, I needed to extricate the nails that attached the metal body to the wooden rails. Turns out a small nail puller in my woodworking gear was the perfect tool:
I used a Japanese pull saw to cut the rail on each side, at the spots where the bodywork joins together. And then there was another problem - the rail was screwed through the lower back board, from the outside! The long center part was rotten enough that it pulled away easily, but I had to sneak a flexible blade in a reciprocating saw behind the short end pieces to cut the final screws to that they could be slid out of place. Here's the final chunks - still solid enough to use as a pattern for a new one.
That rail has a mildly complex profile on the back side, but I got lucky. I was able to glue it up out of pieces I already had planed. The original, according to the web, was made of ash but I used oak because that's what I had. Jake used walnut - furniture grade work, on furniture grade wood, in a piece never to be seen again without disassembling the car! Anyway, there was a pair of vertical grooves for clearance of a bodywork seam, and I used an appropriately sized drill bit to get that spacing right while gluing.
Once everything was glued up and dry, there was one more wrinkle. Each end of the rail had a long curve to match the bodywork. I marked them from the original pieces, and then used a band saw to rough them out, and a belt sander to refine the profile:
When that was done, it looked exactly like the original, and I realized... that's the way they did it in 1952 also! MG didn't have some fancy CNC machine to make those pieces. Some apprentice stood at a belt sander and worked those pieces until they were shaped right. And that explains something I had noticed earlier: the two sides of the original didn't exactly match. Of course not, they were made by hand!
As I said earlier, the rail was in two pieces so it could be reinstalled. Jake glued his, but I got lucky again and found a scrap piece of aluminum plate that was exactly the same width as the rail. I drilled a dozen holes in it on the milling machine and used it to join the rail in place. Then I could mark for the four large bolts that hold the spare tire holder in place and remove the rail and drill those holes. Finally, I could install the pieces for the last time, and use new screws and nails to reattach to the side rails and bodywork.
On the Aamco top I had, there were wooden rails also that mated to the rear and side rails with screws. To make fitting easy, I removed them from the top (they were held by nails) and then fitted those pieces to my new rear rail and the existing side rails. After that, I reinstalled the top frame, and carefully found a few of the original nail holes to align everything. I put plenty more nails in new spots, and the top was back on the car!
Because I used existing holes to realign the top, the fit was exactly as before - not perfect, but adequate. It even folds correctly. IMPORTANT UPDATE! The top is NOT folded correctly in the photo below - look to the end of the post for instructions!
Of course, moments after taking those pictures, I removed the top again so I could reinstall the interior. I have a few more small repairs to make, but this has been a good result! I don't plan to use the top regularly but having one that is solid and usable will allow me to venture forth without worry.
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