Safety Fast May 2017

Spring, and an old man’s fancy turns to thoughts of getting the B out of the garage, giving it a quick rub round with a damp rag and seeing if it will start and continue to run. Mine fired up first go and seems perfectly willing to carry on where we left off in the autumn. Excellent, so far. Where shall we go then? Were I, as 15-odd years ago, residing in the English Midlands or somewhere close, the annual MGB Register Spring Run comes immediately to mind. However, it’s a bit far from West Cornwall to Woburn Abbey and return for a day out, so that is a nonstarter. How about, suggests Graham Dix, the Register Chairman, organising the Spring Run down in the Merry, Merry Westcountree? Again, and for the same reason as above, but in reverse. It is easy to forget, when living up-country, just how long Somerset, Devonshire and Cornwall are. Discussions with the Devon and Cornwall Centre, who organise many events over the year, would suggest the following: this is the UK’s favourite holiday destination, so let us publicise and invite members, of all Registers, when visiting the West to come and join in events organised down here.

You can find a great deal of detail on the excellent website but here are a few things for you to consider, and also note that local Natter details of local events and contacts are in the current D&C Newsletter on the website, should you find yourself in this neck of the woods. Atlantic Coast Express Run, Sunday June 11 starting at Okehampton Railway Station, finishing at Petroc College, Tiverton. Crash Box Club, Powderham Castle Classic Car Show, July 8-9. Torbay Old Wheels Club Show, Paignton Green, July 23. D&C Centre Devon Day, August 6. MG Car Club Wiscombe Park Hill Climb, September 9. Tamar Trial, October 22.
I mentioned earlier the Register Spring Run. Roger Cooper has kindly sent me a write-up and some photographs, as has John Watson.
Thank you, gentlemen!


The day dawned fine and bright and we arrived, as we thought, early, at Hatton, having been slightly fooled by some road closure signs which we ignored without consequence – they may come into effect tomorrow! However, even arriving at 8.30 was late for some – we were not the first there!! WOW!
Expecting 23 cars – from the list Graham gave us – we retired to the café at 9.00am and set up the signing in desk. Now you would think that 23 route books with a couple of spares would be enough. It almost wasn’t, as one driver who had elected to go direct from home had changed his mind to start from Hatton. We overcame that little problem! Someone else turned up who was not on our list but had all the relevant paperwork so we issued him with route book, rally board and tickets to get into Woburn. Another little problem overcome, but now 25 route books made up, 25 route books allocated or used up. Joan was getting anxious. “What do we do if we get another unexpected one?” Well they could have my route book as we had elected to drive direct via the A46, A45 and M1, so route book not needed. If that was not enough I still had the rough draft route book which the printer used as a guide – but it didn’t get that far, thank goodness.
The route from Hatton to Woburn, marked out on a map, is pretty much a straight line. On the ground it could not seem less like that. Over a distance of 86 miles there are 81 junction instructions and the running time, if all goes well, turns out to be between two and a half and three hours. At a guess probably around 80% of the run is on minor and unclassified roads but most of it passes through some very attractive countryside and architecturally interesting villages.
The comments at the end were very positive and appreciative. It’s nice to know when you get something right! Once into the Woburn Park we were advised at the gate that the drive to the car park was around two miles. They are not wrong! The drive winds all the way round the park to end up at the back of the house where we had been allocated our own space, away from the general public, on grass at the side the road but still close to all the facilities, and a fantastic view over the countryside.
The weather could not have been better all day – bright sunshine and a gentle breeze. An excellent start to the season!
Apparently, at a Silverstone dinner, remarks were made about brown Bs not being desirable. Heather Charlton disagrees and sent us the following contribution.



The first two months of the year started with the usual two winter road runs and, of course, a local run should the sun come out. But imagine the shock and horror when, in March, a new car was delivered. Not so unusual, you may say, but this was an MG3, apparently an early 60th wedding anniversary present. For the past 21 years I have been the only MG in the family and have covered 132,000 miles in that time in all weathers, so why do we need a new MG? I was soon told that this was a Micra replacement and would be used for all the mundane jobs more suited to a saloon car and it would also be used on those rare occasions when the weather was too bad for me to go on an organised run. So I reluctantly welcomed the new boy, he is an MG after all, though I still had some reservations, what with all the new technology he sported, ABS brakes, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, electric windows and air conditioning. That, at least, I could compete against with my fully opening top on a lovely summer day. Still, would I be the Number One car for Road runs and Rallies? On that score I was assured that I had already been booked for several events during the year.

The first event planned was a weekend away starting from Abingdon and going to Stratford-upon-Avon. I was looking forward to this as it was a Register event and I would be in company with other MGBs. Unfortunately, two weeks before the event it became obvious that one of my fuel pumps was playing up. I had been fitted with dual pumps in the days when I had been taken to the Alps for five-day competitive rallies and it was thought that this would ensure that we were not stranded up some mountain with a useless petrol pump. These pumps had worked faultlessly for 20 years, but now one of them needed replacing, so I was booked in for a new pump in plenty of time for the weekend trip. Something went wrong and I would not be ready until after the weekend. Although I was bitterly disappointed I was pleased that Bill and Heather could go with the new MG3 and he enjoyed driving on roads new to him and had been enthusiastically greeted at the start of the Register run from Abingdon to Ragley Hall, near Alcester. The run was interesting with lovely scenery but the Branz was missed, a clear and accurate machine which shows the miles travelled. This machine had been invaluable in the Alps and still is useful on local runs. The sun shining on the dash of the 3 made reading the odometer more difficult. The 3 was left at the hotel whilst Bill and Heather explored Stratford on foot and then home, via the garage, to collect me. Apparently the journey out of Stratford is easier with a satnav, which I have.

The next weekend was a local run on a lovely sunny day. Hood down and picnic chairs etc in my boot and off we went. Disaster! Petrol was spilling from a fuel line! Luckily it was spotted and I was quickly returned to my garage. The 3 went on the local run. A few years ago ethanol was added to fuel and all older cars were warned that this could cause damage to fuel lines and components. This is what had happened to me. I was fitted with new fuel lines and was soon back on the road, this time to be taken for my MOT and complete service which included new brake pads and calipers. My belief was that I was ready for the forthcoming weekend away but, on being taken out for a local run, my brakes squealed so much that I was rushed straight back to the garage where it was discovered that the calipers were faulty! Repairs made, I was ready for the Speckled Hen Run. As always, this was enjoyable starting at Radley College and going to Stoner Park where there was The Great Antique and Vintage Car Boot Sale. This made for an interesting day out before returning to Radley College for cream tea and the drive home to Wimborne.

The following weekend was MGLive! I have been to Silverstone 18 out of the past 21 years. I used to be entered into the gymkhana class but nowadays I am parked up with all the other MGBs in the Register car park. In the event, Bill and Heather took the MG3 and enrolled him into the 6.3.5 Register, making him a bone fide member of the Club. Whilst there, Bill and Heather looked at a satnav system for the 3 and were given a table marker used at the President’s Dinner. This is an image of a brown B. The card was used especially with me in mind, as a kind of apology to all MGBs for a rash remark made several years ago at a dinner when the speaker said: “Who would want to own a brown MGB?” This is now attached to my garage wall with Pride.

A week after Silverstone we went to Brittany for a long weekend. The holiday was a great success, though my brakes still squeaked under certain conditions. On return, we were told that the last set of pads, number three, were faulty and so Bill fitted another set at home. For the next three months I was driven continuously, and my brake pads squeaked occasionally and did not feel as efficient as previously. During this time my pads had been changed three times, I had been fitted with new calipers, new discs and a new servo; still the brakes squeaked. Isn’t there a way of solving this problem?

September sees the annual MGB Register weekend, this time based close to Skipton, North Yorkshire. We set off on Thursday for a night stop in Shrewsbury and did all but 30 of the 330 miles on A and B roads. The Saturday run took us across the North Yorkshire Moors on roads populated with classic cars, motor bikes and cyclists. Lovely weather ensured the day was a success. Sunday was much the same, with one feature being a long, sweeping road over the high moor punctuated with cattle grids. Bill was getting more and more irritated with my noisy brakes and was even saying he was going to sell me!
Of course, when we got home all was forgotten, particularly when Mike Rolls produced a pair of calipers he had built for me. Duly fitted, and with a winter service, the problem is solved. My brakes are efficient and no longer squeak. I am confident that I am still the Number One Rally Car in the family! See you at MGLive! at Silverstone…if we’re spared (as a particularly lugubrious Yorkshireman I knew would say).

Heather Charlton