Autumn already, and our esteemed chairman is asking me to promote our new clothing and regalia. Go to our Register website for details regalia.mgb-register.org…just in time for Christmas, ho, ho, ho. John’s other request is that you make a note on your kitchen calendar of the Spring Run on April 5 2020. This will start at Millett’s Farm Shop and go to Stowe, between Buckingham and Silverstone. Pictured this month by Piers Hubbard is the most unusual MGB I have seen. It has been stretched and used as a shuttlebus at GT44, the NAMGAR meeting which is reported on elsewhere.
Roger and Nicky Boys went on an adventure to Scotland to complete the North Coast 500. The whole report is too long for this month so we’ll give you a taster of what they got up to, with the main report in the four-page spread in next month’s issue. North Coast 500 Route in the Boneshaker Our adventure of the summer 2019 was to complete the NORTH COAST 500 route, which is to circumnavigate the top of Scotland. It was friends Ian and Sue Deverall who invited Nicky and I to join them for this trip. The plan was to join a Scenic & Continental Car Tours event, which took all the hard work out of planning the route and booking the hotels – this proved to be an excellent suggestion. We would spend a couple of extra days getting up to Scotland and also do the same on the way back. So with all booked and paid for, cars prepared, luggage for the 12 days packed and loaded, the route to our first hotel entered into “Doris” the trusty satnav, let’s go. Don’t worry, in next month’s issue I am not going to provide chapter and verse of each day just a few of the highlights of the trip.
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Further to my missive last month about the nearside quarterlight bracket breaking, I have had a devil of a time finding a replacement as, apparently, they have not been seen since 2014. I spent a while trawling through various companies in search of this part and, eventually found a used one with Andy Jennings (01489 790611) in Southampton. However, serviceable as this one is, I continued looking. Mike Rolls in Dorset put me onto the prize. EB Engineering in Malvern, Worcestershire (01684 577564) supply fully renovated quarterlights, windscreens and SU Carburettors. Eddie Biddle has sent two of the brackets direct to Tim Kelly so this fiddly repair can be done. “ Boys Day Out” at Shelsley Walsh The Classic Nostalgia event was held over a June weekend with the Register organised meet on the Saturday. The Register has previously visited Shelsley for MGB 50 in 2012 when we drove the hill and for MGB GT 50 in 2015. For those who have not visited Shelsley, obviously it is set on a hill surrounded by stunning countryside and first opened in 1905. I was joined on the day by fellow committee members Andrew, who had organised things, and Chris together with his son James. As we all live a good drive from Shelsley we stopped in a local hotel on the Friday night, and got there early to set up the Register parking. The day started dry with blue sky but there was the threat of heavy rain. First job on arrival, park the Bs then put up the Register Banners and plan the parking. Second job, and possibly the most important of the day, breakfast. In fact, full English in the excellent restaurant. What immediately hits you is how relaxed everything is, but there is a great atmosphere and a very British feel to things. It feels like nothing has changed there for years. All the competitors are very friendly and most are happy to talk about their cars, so you don’t get the feeling you are intruding. The smell of the place is wonderful with the racing fuels and the smell of the cars. You can walk around the paddock getting right up to the cars and stand right with the cars as they form up to drive the hill. The format of the day is practice runs in the morning with two competition runs in the afternoon after the lunch break – all very civilised. Being the Classic Nostalgia Event the range of cars was fantastic, from Austin 7s to Formula 2 cars with everything imaginable in between, including a nice mix of MG types. Once the action starts things move quickly with a car driving the hill about every 90 seconds, so there is little time to get bored. There is excellent viewing for the majority of the hill with a footpath following the line of the track with seating areas along its length. The seating areas are great for viewing and resting the legs whilst enjoying the mandatory afternoon Ice Cream! The track is 1,000 yards and the hill record is 22.58 seconds. The times we saw were in the 30 to 40 seconds range but still very enjoyable to watch. It’s amazing how quick the times are when you consider how narrow the hill is and the tightness of some bends. So, if you want a great day out and enjoy competitive non-commercial motorsport with a great relaxed atmosphere then Shelsley is well worth a visit, and with the discounted Register ticket price great value. Thanks, Andrew, for organising a great day. Neil Hyett
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At fairly frequent intervals on the various public pages on Facebook, for instance, I see questions about what fuel an MGB requires. The issue promptly gets confused as various people put in comments about running their car,without any mishap, on 83 octane with a supplement of donkey droppings and the thread then wanders off into the whys and wherefores of fitting different engines, carburettors or whatever. My sole contribution to these ramblings is always to remark that the MGB was intended to run on high octane fuel. Interestingly, I found an old BP advert, from the 1960s, which proves the point. As you can see it lists the various octanes that BP supplied in those far-off days and suggests the cars for which the various grades would suit. 99 octane is the highest grade of fuel supplied and it is that grade which BP recommended for the MGB. Obviously, things move on and the majority of petrol engined vehicles run cheerfully on the current 95 octane supplied readily on every forecourt. I have noticed that 97 octane is becoming more widely available, at the supermarkets not just the major fuel suppliers.
An old BP advert,displaying 99 octane fuel for the MGB
My MGB runs without issue on this grade and I am aware that 99 octane has been available at Tesco for quite a while and, again, this suits my old engine. I know these premium fuels cost more, but, for the limited number of miles I achieve each year in my B, I consider it worthwhile to provide the fuel it was intended to use.
My car is now 52 years old and, touch wood, seems to be running without any issues. I am using it frequently on local day-to-day trips, usually of around 30 miles as everywhere from where I live seems to be about 15 miles away… Truro, Penzance, Falmouth, St Agnes for Tim Kelly where I went the other day as a piece of my car had fallen off! Nothing truly dreadful, just the turnbuckle for the nearside quarterlight. The bracket holding it has snapped. Tim has the appropriate bits on order, not having one complete in his vast repository of parts. Looking at the fiddly assemblage I shall leave it to him to take the broken bits out and fit the new one.
The broken turnbuckle for the nearside quaterlight
2019 F1 WITH MG CAR CLUB
Lauran at Kimber House was asked, at short notice, if she could arrange a selectionof 20 plus two reserve Chrome bumper MGA, MGB, MGC roadsters and Midgets to Silverstone from Thursday to the main F1 race day on Sunday July 14. The purpose of this model choicewas made so the 20 F1 Grand Prix drivers could be driven around the newly surfaced Silverstone F1 track, either in, or sat on the back of, the MGs. So, on Thursday prior to the race we all arrived and set the MGs on display ready for the track parade on the Sunday. Come Sunday, it was a wonderful experience for the MG owners and I’m sure the F1 drivers.
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WELCOME TO THE MGB REGISTER NEWSLETTER PUBLISHED IN THE JULY 2019 SAFETY FAST
As promised, we have a winner for the number of Easter eggs in the back of my MGB GT. There were 25 in the back out of the 580 we bought for the Lions Club of Camborne Redruth Great Easter Egg Hunt staged on Portreath Beach on Easter Sunday. The winner is James Wylie from Hertfordshire and Ellie Macbain-Williams, our Regalia organiser, is sorting him out with one of the new Register Polo shirts. Enjoy, James. Good estimate. Of course, you can get many more things into the back of a GT (I’m sure you all have interesting examples). My previous LE made an excellent bar one year at Silverstone, with a barrel of Ringwood Bitter set up and the polyurethane bumper proving ideal as a rest for beer mugs.
Petrolicious Drivers Meeting May 12 The Marathon MGB featured in a select display as part of the ‘Collective’ within the Petrolicious event staged at Bicester. The display was of eight cars by invitation – each one submitted by a car club. This was organised by Next Step Heritage in partnership with Petrolicious.
The Marathon MGB was featured in the magazine produced for the display. There was a detailed story of its discovery and restoration, compiled by Andrew Coles. We have added the content of “Marathon in the Dust” to the website. www.mgb-register.org It is well worth a read (too big an article to include in these notes). Club members and staff from Next Step Heritage were on hand to discuss the cars with visitors throughout the day.
For the rest of the event, members and owners brought a wide range of historic vehicles which featured around the site and parked on the grass area adjacent to the airfield. There were further displays and an archive film showing within one of the hangars.
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I am writing these notes mid May, having NOT just MOT tested my MGB GT. It was scheduled for 7.00am. As I went to start my car the starter motor made a rattling noise… nothing more. How, in the name of all that is good and beautiful, has it got a flat battery? It has a smart charger almost permanently attached, certainly all winter though not for the past couple of weeks. In that time it has been driven, perhaps, 40 miles. This goes to prove the old adage. They do need driving and I have been sadly remiss in that department and have been caught out. I checked the car out at the end of last week; everything worked fine except the screen washer. Investigation proved that the washer bottle had cracked and the jet spout on the back of the hand pump had snapped off! How? They reside in almost total darkness and were merely 52 years old! Tim Kelly provided both components and a length of new hose and after much contortion on my back in the nearside foot well (I’m getting too old to do that) the system sprang to life. It produces enough of a sample to prove its claim to fame and, therefore, enough to satisfy the examiner. Which thought brings me to my conclusion. The current MOT expires on May 10. I cannot get it examined now before the 14th. It is taxed, from May 1 for 12 months (£0), insured and no longer requires an MOT, being the age it is. What is my legal position? Can I just drive it willy-nilly? Personally, I am confident that it is perfectly sound and fit for purpose but I would still like the reassurance of an inspection to a known standard by a competent motor engineer. John Watson, our esteemed Chairman, considers that an MOT, to whatever the standard is or will be, for older vehicles is the sensible option and I agree.
Just before going to press, my MGB GT passed it’s MOT with no advisories.
Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb The MGB Register will be at Shelsley Walsh on June 15 with a reserved parking area and discounted entry of £18 per ticket. All MG Car Club members are welcome. For full details and to book your tickets direct with the organisers, visit www.classicnostalgia.co.uk
Bicester Super Scramble Sunday June 23 Bigger, better and more action-packed than the well-established tri-annual open days, the Super Scramble will see the beautiful former RAF Technical Site filled with a specially curated collection of historic vehicles, the test track brought to life with cars demonstrating for the crowds and visiting aircraft on the historic airfield.
Classic Car and MG Summer Picnic Sunday August 4 Millets Farm Centre and Frosts Garden Centre offer various attractions and restaurants, something for everyone.
Who built your MGB? Sunday August 18 Here is a chance to meet the workers who built your MGB. Ex-Factory employees and MGB owners Welcome. Kimber House 10.30am
There are still a couple of places left on the MGBRegister weekend in Woodbridge, Suffolk, Friday 13 to Monday September 16. See the website for details.
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You remember from April’s notes that Peter Nixon from Tyne Tees Centre was searching for parts for his hardtop and found a possible contact in the USA. He tells me that he ordered the retaining strip that he needed and that it has now turned up and is a perfect fit! That’s good to know, then. It would have been nice to get my BGT out this past couple of weeks, but, as my photograph shows, it has been used to store Easter Eggs (nice and cool in the garage and out of the sun). These are prizes for a Great Easter Egg Hunt organised annually on Portreath Beach in Cornwall for under-5s and over-5s…by Camborne/Redruth Lions Club. But how many Eggs are there in the Car? Send me an email with your guess and we will pick out a winner and organise a prize from the Register regalia. Cut off May 15. Last year there were more than 500 children, and even more enthusiastic parents, digging frantically for the buried treasure. The beach looked like a minefield afterwards. Hint…I don’t have all the prizes…
There are still a few places available on the Register weekend in Suffolk in the autumn. See the website for more details and a booking form.
I shan’t comment about losing MGLive! this year, other than reminding everyone that Silverstone is a Motor Racing Circuit, not merely another disused airfield, because of efforts made by the MGCC after the war.
A few tech tips from your new Register Committee member, Mike Barclay
MGB Bonnet: Refitting the bonnet on an MGB after working on the engine can be a bit of a fiddle, trying to line up the height and fit across the front wings. If you look at the bonnet hinges and the corresponding mounting points on the bonnet you will notice 2 x 1/8 inch holes drilled through each. These were used by the factory when refitting the bonnets at the end of the line to ensure the bonnets went back in the same place when removed at the start of assembly. When fitting the bonnet, once the bolts are in, fit a 1/8” piece of bar (drill bit is ideal) in each hole, adjust and the bonnet should fit correctly.
MGB Rostyle wheel nuts: Using the original wheel brace or a normal socket to remove the wheel nuts on Rostyle wheels usually results in damage to the chrome plating. If you have a socket set with a plug spanner socket use this as it is the correct size for the nuts and fits all the way down the nut preventing damage to the chrome.
Cheap thief deterrent: Unfortunately we are seeing more and more MGBs stolen these days. Because of the era these cars come from there is very little to stop anyone breaking in (particularly the Roadsters) opening the bonnet, “hot wiring” the ignition and the car is gone. All MGBs have an electric fuel pump. Power to the pump is fed from a white wire connected where the front and rear harnesses join in the group of bullet connectors below the fuse box. If you remove this connection and make up a small harness connected to a secret switch (mine is mounted in a hard-to-find place under the dash) you can turn off the pump when you leave the car. If someone tries to take the car it will only run for around 200m before running out of fuel. OK, it will not stop the determined thief but it might just make them abandon their attempt to steal your car.
Bonus wiring: This only works for MGB Roadsters. The front wiring harness for both Roadster and GT is the same. This means on a Roadster the wiring for the rear heated screen is present but not used. This leaves a +12 wire feed (green) and return wire (white/black) that terminates in a bullet connect in the bundle of bullet connectors below the fuse box. This can be useful when wanting to add things like a radiator fan override switch, avoiding having to add extra wiring under the dash and through the bulkhead to the engine compartment.
Battery conditioner: MGB batteries are not located in the most convenient place, making the connection/disconnection of a battery charger/conditioner time consuming when wanting to use the car. The cigarette lighter on later cars is permanently connected to 12V. Using a suitable lighter plug connected to your charger output makes disconnection/connection quick and simple. Make sure you get the polarity correct.
MGB REGISTER SPRING RUN
I couldn’t go to the Register-organised Spring Run but did go on the local event organised by John Harvey, leader of the West Cornwall Natter. This was a castle to castle event starting at St Mawes and finishing at Caerhays. Three MGBs, two TFs and a 1937 TA took part. All open top motoring on a bright but chilly day. Good to blow the cobwebs away and give the cars an airing after the winter. The gang up country seemed to enjoy themselves… according to Roger and Nicky Boys…
The MG season has started. The MGB Spring Run for many is the first major event of the year and all owners look forward to taking the opportunity to shake the cobwebs off their MG. There were approximately 74 cars that pitched up at Millets Farm, near Abingdon, for the start. There was quite an MG buzz in the cafe as we all met up with old friends and discussed the modifi cations and work that we had completed during the winter, and naturally there was the opportunity to put the world to rights – Brexit, despite being a taboo subject, got a mention! The warmth and smell of cooking breakfasts and hot coffee made it difficult to get motivated and set out on the route. The weather did its best for us; despite remaining cool and overcast all day, we were fortunate that there was no rain for the whole time we were out in the car, hence the roof remained down, but a warm jacket and woolly hat was required. The first section of the route was brilliant; it took us deep into the Cotswolds, exploring some beautiful villages built in traditional style featuring the lovely warm Cotswold stone and thatched roofs. The roads were interesting and at times challenging. Goodness knows how much it would cost to fill in all of the potholes and refurbish the roads of this area, let alone the rest of the country. Lots of MGs were seen parked up in delightful places, taking lunch before completing the route to The Classic Motor Hub, Bibury. Great credit here goes to Roger and Joan Cooper for planning the interesting and varied route. Nicky and I made a couple of silly errors due entirely to a lack of concentration which caused us to miss a turning. However, we have resolved to complete it all again during the coming summer when the views will be less shrouded in mist.
The Classic Motor Hub, Bibury, is a fascinating place, filled with an interesting array of exotic classic cars, the majority of which are for sale and could be tempting if you have deep pockets. Everybody was very friendly and made us all extremely welcome and we were encouraged to explore. I have to admit that as we did not get there until 2.30pm we did not get an opportunity to look round, just time to grab a coffee before it was time to set off on the second section, which took us back towards the start where we had an opportunity to visit Kingston House at Kingston Bagpuize.
The half way halt, the Classic Motor Hub at Bibury. Photo: Mark Rathbone
The Classic Motor Hub regularly advertises in Safety Fast! and holds a number of British Coffee and Classics events throughout the year, so keep your eyes open and visit them, you will not regret it. Look at www.classicmotorhub.com for information. The route back was more direct and gave us all an opportunity to speed up and enjoy the wind-in-the hair motoring. The Kingston House owner was on the gate to welcome us all. Approximately 40 cars made it to the end. We guess the other cars had headed for home. Here we had the opportunity to go into this fascinating house, steeped in history, as well as explore the grounds or simply enjoy afternoon tea while continuing the conversation with friends plus, as a bonus, super homemade cakes, some of which were made by the owner! Nicky and I completed 140 miles by the time we got back to Newbury and enjoyed the ‘Boneshaker’, our 1964 MGB, during an excellent day out to start the MG year. Thanks go to the MGB Register Committee for organising such a wonderful event. Shall we do it again next year? Yes, please. Roger and Nicky Boys.
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There are still places to be snapped up on April 7 on the MGB Register Spring Run 2019 Supported by British Motor Heritage. This year’s Spring Run starts at Millets Farm, visits the Classic Motor Hub Bibury and finishes at Kingston Bagpuize House. .Entry is £26 and includes Route Book and Rally Plaque. Don’t forget, if you wish to visit the house this can be booked on the day. There is a maximum limit of 100 MGs. You can turn up on the day and register your intentions… I had a phone call from Peter Nixon of the Tyne Tees Centre and, consequently, he sent me the following. In response to a posting I put on MG Experience website in the USA, looking for Works hardtop parts which are no longer available in the UK, I was given the following web address: http://trf.zeni.net/MGB-GC/254.php which brought up the ‘The Roadster Factory’. I was able to order the retainer strips which go under the rear glass area for the rubber that sits on the back of the MGB, total cost including postage from the USA was $58. The price includes the rivets. This is on that page: “It may be that we at TRF know more about the hard top than any other source because we purchased all the remaining parts and moulds from a motorcycle side car company known as Watsonian Squire back in the 1980s. Watsonian manufactured parts in glass fibre, and they were the original supplier of the hard top to MG. This project has been on hold at TRF for many years, but we are looking again at the possibility of producing original hard tops. In the meantime, we have many parts in stock for repair of used hard tops. By the way, TRF’s owner, Charles Runyan, was trained by Watsonian Squire in hard top assembly. Also, Watsonian is a descendent of a company once known as The Swallow Side Car Company (I vaguely remember the Austin 7 having bodywork by Swallow, correct me please if wrong) When the company split, the other branch was known first as SS Cars and later as… yes, Jaguar. No English company wanted to be known as ‘SS’ anything after World War II.” Incidentally, the works hardtop rear glass is available from Brown & Gammons for £46.80 including VAT, postage is prohibitive at around £76 for a pallet, so better to pick it up. I just bought that glass for the hardtop which I picked up for a pittance as it had no rear glass in it.
The photograph is of Danny Waters, our technical guru for many years. He is collecting the Marque of Friendship Award from Club Director, George Wilder, and the caricature as a thank you from the MGB Register.
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