In early January we were told that Lockdown Mk3 was to commence. This will, potentially, impact the exciting programme that your committee has been putting together for 2021, so it will be a case of wait and see. Hopefully, things may start to happen later in the spring but, for now, keep fettling!
Contributions from Germany and Switzerland this month, as well as a heartwarming set of memories from Ian Hayter…enjoy!!
25 YEARS OF PRIDE OWNERSHIP
In 1992 I saw an advert in a local paper: MGB 1971, needs some TLC, 1.300,-DM. It sounds cheap, but no, the snow white MG was a wreck. However, I was young, just sold my BMW motorcycle combination and my everyday car was a Volvo 544 and there´s some spare room in my garage, just the right size for a little roadster. I bought the MGB and started work. Two years later, exactly March 3 1995, the now black car was back on the road with fresh TÜV and better than new. During the first drive on March 5 it began to snow, but my wife Ulrike and I loved it. This was the start of my life with an MGB. It only let me down once, in front of my drive with a broken timing chain and gears. No problem, replaced it including new big ends and that’s it. The MGB is very reliable and comfortable.
First holiday was in the summer of 1995 for four weeks to the south of England. Loaded with an exchange gearbox, which I brought back to the Owners Club, and full camping equipment with tent, chairs and table. It was a hot summer and we loved it touring round. More holidays in the UK, Austrian Alps and Germany followed. After I sold the Volvo, the MGB was my everyday transport to work for some years, with no problems. For winter I fitted a works hardtop and snow tyres. In 2005 I bought a Rover Mini Cooper and the MGB was mostly used for holiday tours and in summer with the hood down. In 2012 we went for a long trip around Orkney, the Lake District, Blenheim Palace (MGB 50) and then on to Dover. In 2015 the MGB clocked over 60k miles near Newcastle and in 2018 got new paint and a two-litre balanced engine. Ready for the next 25 years.
Thomas is a welcome sight at so many Register gatherings over the years. He is usually the one who has travelled the furthest to get there.
DON HAYTER – GROWING UP WITH DAD.
Don Hayter, my dad, was quite a quiet man.
As children, we were certainly looked after and even indulged at times! He was a calm man and a fair man, but you did not want to push him too far. I certainly found this out when I was younger and boundaries were being laid and thresholds set. When not working, we were lucky enough to enjoy our home, garden and some travel. We grew up in a small village called Appleford, not far from Abingdon.
We were lucky to have a large garden, and so dad had his vegetables growing
and my sister and I had daily chores to complete. I was a mower, a coal boy, and bonfire maker and car washer. My sister opted for vacuuming and dusting. I think my deal was better!
Holidays… Younger years.
Sitting on a rug with a plastic sheet underneath it, two windbreaks tied together into circle with a small gap to enter and exit. Another plastic sheet over the top secured with garden vine. The only family left on Woolacombe beach as the rain beats a rhythm above us. We are on holiday and the weather is not going to move us! This is a part of life growing up with an engineer and designer, everything planned and accounted for. And when the rain abates, we have the beach to ourselves for a while.
A later holiday having to be taken in a family car which was a Harvest Gold Austin Maxi, a spare fan belt, some water, a big tool roll and off we went. Down to Dover, hovercraft to Calais, a long drive through France stopping at Beune and Menton. Over the border into Italy and a sample of some interesting local driving styles, and the scary cliff roads of the Amalfi coast. Constant updates of unusual cars en route with factual updates of make/model/engine size and top speed, etc.
At one point we stopped with dad’s friends in Sanremo. A first experience of bread sticks and fizzy water at the table. All topped off with me being presented with an octopus salad. Dad looked at me scanning the tentacles and just said: “ Just have a go at that” . This pretty much summed up his attitude to life and the whole trip, really.
In a world before car seats, and where you could easily perch on a parcel shelf, my sister Alison and I were soon introduced to life in an MGB. The whole experience of an open-top car was very exciting for us, and we used to giggle and shout the faster we were driven. I don’t think that dad needed much encouragement to push on, though.
Just seeing a picture of a dash or a view looking forwards down the front wing still brings great memories. Nothing can match a summer’s evening, and the smell of bonfires, freshly cut grass, and rush of air past your face. I remember the “ new” smell of these cars, and spent many hours travelling in them all over the county. Now in later years, I feel a bright spark of pride whenever I see one.
One moment that springs to mind is dad having his “ fashion moment” for a flat cap and a pipe. Whilst the cap works well with the roof down, a pipe did not! We had a bit of off-roading and an emergency brake test after the pipe embers jumped out, bounced down his front and ended up between his legs!
On Saturdays if dad had to work more hours to finish a particular project, we would go into the works. I remember the drawing office vaguely, and being impressed with the assembly line. We spent a fair amount of time watching the crash testing results with the introduction of the rubber bumper models. I was always drawn to seeing the lines of completed cars in an array of colours, and would wonder where they would go and how far they would travel. I can remember being in the EX234 prototype for the Abingdon parade. It was quite embarrassing having all those eyes on you. My current workplace is actually on Kimber Road, so I still feel a connection with the old site.
Another exciting weekend pastime was the racing scene. This included mainly trips to Silverstone and Brands Hatch. The pits were always great build up before a race and you could feel the expectation in the tone of the conversations taking place. I think that sometimes the racing extended into our own car on the way home…. When home in the quiet of the village the races would stay with me. The smell of petrol, oil, burning rubber… most of all the howling symphony of engines being pushed to capacity. It always took me a few hours to regain calmness.
When it came time for me to buy my first car, I was looking at a blue MGB GT. It was out of my savings/price range, though, and with my impatient youth, I was desperate to own something. A guy I worked with was selling a Triumph Spitfire in need of some TLC, so I got that. I don’t think I had fully grasped that this was part of the “ opposition” as it were. Dad showed no negativity at all with this (or possibly hid it very well) and he helped me with various jobs on the car, including later on a clutch replacement and how to balance the carburettors. He was very interested in the way the front wing and bonnet section pivoted forward to give engine access. In later years I have really regretted my decision, but that is how it went and he did find it quite amusing.
On dad’s 90th birthday, my wife Ruth came up with the idea of giving dad a leather-bound diary, the idea behind this being to capture and then write down any specific memories. At this stage we were well aware that in a life so packed full of work, and travel, we were going to miss out on many of his experiences. Now in the diary there are entries of different designs that he worked on. These were normally small modifications or updates to existing designs.
What absolutely stands out here, is that the MGB was a project that he was able to be involved with and follow through from the start to the finish. Anyone given that opportunity is very lucky.
He was always very humble about his input and I think this was backed up by the fact that, as children, we never really knew exactly how much involvement there had been in the design. He just got up early, went to work. When home he never really mentioned too much. We were always excited to see new and different cars being brought home, and would form a disorderly queue to go out in them. I normally lost out on best seating position to my bigger sister.
A diary entry
Dad was the eldest of three. His dad was demobbed from the war and became a Police constable in Abingdon. Another role of bomb recovery officer was also passed his way. This included dealing with calls from local farmers and landowners reporting unexploded bombs in their fields. Grandad would take my dad with him to these sites. They would carefully collect the smaller bombs, wrap them in blankets, and place them in the boot of the car. Then they would take them back to the local depot to be defused.
Dad recounted to me that he and his younger brother, Peter, had pyjamas made from silk by grandma. The silk came from a parachute with some sort of explosive device that got caught in a tree. Another time, another world indeed.
On a personal note, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to everyone that sent messages and tributes to dad and the family. Also, to the constant work that is done to keep the marque alive. These cars have made their way into people’s lives and have become part of families history.
I nod to you all and doff my cap… Let’s leave the pipe be….
AN UNLUCKY COVID-19 PROJECT ON AN MGB GT
Did you ever try to navigate your forefinger in an MGB GT to one of the switches on the dashboard during a dark new moon night? And then, if you feel a damn switch, to be sure it’s the requested function “ Wiper on/off” or could it probably be the one for “ Blower on/off” ? If the answers to both questions are no, then you can stop reading here and skip the article.
As an occasional classic car driver, not only running MGs but other cars with
black dashboards as well, I ended from time to time in the above-mentioned uncomfortable situation. The dashboard is really one of the darkest regions in my MGB GT 1974, besides my fingernails (being her technical support-in-training and proud driver…). So, instead of sitting around bored during lockdown, I decided to open a project to improve the unsatisfying situation. My following investigations to fix the problem ended in the possibility of installing a slim light source to the stem of the interior mirror. There was a good chance that the beam of the light source might illuminate some of the most often used switches on the dashboard, in order to stop the fumbling around in the darkness.
I bought a 4-19V dimmable LED (4’000 mcd, more would have been better!) from a DIY shop and soft-soldered two thin wires to its legs, one wire clipped to the red-white +12V panel illumination cable, the other wire connected to frame GND (e.g. somewhere at the A-post, behind the vinyl A-post cover). The two legs of the LED must of course be separately insulated by using heat shrink tubing. This method is also useful to protect and cover the whole LED assembly in order to prevent light scatter in the direction of the windscreen, etc. It’s now an easy job to fix the LED assembly to the stem of the interior mirror by using some small cable ties (see photo). Wires can, in an MGB GT, easily be hidden by routing them behind the front header rail, down along the A-post (behind the cover) and then, behind the dashboard, to be directly connected to the red-white +12V panel illumination cable and to GND (without any electronic dingdongs!). The installation of a fuse (max. 500 mA) between the +12V wire to the LED and the original red-white +12V panel illumination cable is strongly recommended.
But tests during implementation showed a suboptimal result, because the now dimly illuminated switches were still unsatisfactorily identifiable. The readability of the engraved white symbols did not match my expectations.
Therefore I tried to improve the situation by filling the engravings with a white wax-based paintstick, but the engravings were unfortunately not deep enough to hold the white colour as desired…
Conclusion: At this actual stage the solution is not yet recommendable! There is still enough room for improvements but, honestly, the readability during night is better than it was before. In fact so far an unlucky Swiss project, but at least I had some fun and still no close contact with the Covid-19 beast. Don’t forget, this solution works for GTs only and not for MG Roadsters, but their drivers are, while searching switches during well-planned night trips, anyway supported by the bright light of a nice full moon…