Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline February 2009
University Motors Ltd. 34th Annual Birthday Party
Ada, Michigan - January 24, 2009
(and a second day of fun)

Spell that "P-A R-T-Y" with a "yee-haw" on the end. I had a hard time trying to count noses, but maybe close to 200 people in attendance. There was a $3 donation for all the soda and beer and chili and cake you could consume in four hours. Also a 50-50 raffle with $240 in cash and a couple dozen other door prizes. For my $5 in raffle tickets I was lucky and bagged a very nice sweat shirt with club logo from Southwest Michigan Old Speckled Hen MG Car Club. Got to meet a few old friends and dozens of new ones.
It's always interesting to check out the projects in process around the UML shop. There were three T-types about half way through restoration, a TC, TD, and TF. The TD was for a customer in Hawaii. There was also an MGA from Norway with a "get it running" sign on it, in need of all brake work and a number of fuel and electrical items to fix after many years of storage. Also one TC with original factory Shorrock supercharger looking a little dirty but very original and presentable. Add a few nicely restored MGB roadsters, one with a V8 conversion. To clear enough floor space for the people, several more customer cars were parked outside for the day.
I accidentally arrived 20 minutes early, and less accidentally left 30 minutes late, so I was there (mostly indoors) nearly 5 hours. I don't know if anyone else drove their LBC this time, but my MGA made it through some lake effect snow and constant 10dF temperatures okay for the 430 mile round trip. Nice cruising weather this time, as I only had to wash salt off the windscreen and headlights once on the way home.
For a follow up I drove from Naperville IL to Davenport IA on Sunday for a dinner meeting with Quad City British Auto Club. A mere 295 mile round trip this time, no snow, a little sun, mostly dry roads, and temperature was up to 12dF by late afternoon (downright balmy). 25 people for the 2pm dinner, mostly old friends, but some I don't get to see too often. I didn't see any other LBC there, but My MGA is used to that by now when it's just a little chilly outside.
Two days on the road with a little salt was a gratifying way to toast the fresh body restoration. It's beginning to look like a real car again.
- Barney Gaylord

A Few (more) Note-Worthy Items

The club tool lending program has many items available for member use. Most of these are higher end items that are used on a limited basis but come in handy when needed. We have items such as a MIG welder, an engine hoist and stand, and a sand blaster just to name a few. We have recently added a new item; a kingpin reamer for MG Midget and AH Sprite.

Anyone attending the CMGC Annual Business Meeting and Awards on February 16 will be able to pick up a 10% discount order form for your next parts purchase from Moss Motors.


Technical Information Courtesy of

That article came about from lots of people incessantly asking me how to tune an engine, even though the general instructions are in the shop manual for anyone to read.  Problem is, the shop manual is written for pro shop mechanics who are expected to have a lot of common knowledge in advance.  Common Joe doesn't necessarily know what "larger offset upwards" means, or "reassembly is the reverse of disassembly".  Oddly, the shop manual doesn't even mention choke linkage or fast idle cam.

Pre-Tune-Up Checks: If the maintenance history of your engine is unknown you should do some preliminary checks or adjustments to assure all is right with the engine.

  • Check valve motion (lift distance), set valve clearance, and do a compression test to verify good compression on all cylinders.
  • Check and adjust the ignition parts. Set the points gap and spark timing, and be sure you have strong spark to all four plugs.
  • Give the distributor rotor an anti-clockwise twist to verify the mechanical advance mechanism is free to move.
  • Draw a strong vacuum on the distributor to assure the vacuum advance mechanism will move and the diaphragm does not leak.
  • For static timing start with 12d BTDC. If you have a strobe light, try 20d BTDC at slow idle. The original specification of 7d static is sort of a lost cause intended to satisfy worst fuel conditions for the whole world in the 1950's. (More on spark timing later).
  • Check for adequate fuel delivery and no air bubbles in the fuel line.
  • Check for fuel dripping from the carburetors and fix that if necessary.
  • Pull the choke full on and release it. Reach under the carburetors and verify that the main fuel jet has returned to the full up position. If you press up and the jet snaps up to the rest position, it was stuck in the lowered condition, which must be corrected before proceeding with the tune up.
  • Open the dashpot covers, lift out the air float piston, remove the long fuel regulating needle, and check the numbers on the shank of the needle to verify use of the correct needle for your application. The needle should be installed with the shoulder flush with the bottom of the piston. The piston should rise and fall freely (firm thump when it hits bottom of travel).
  • If the dashpot piston hangs up, clean the piston and the dashpot cover with solvent and soft rag. Never use abrasives, and keep the pistons and covers in matched sets, because these parts are lapped to fit with minimal working clearance for good air seal around the outside.
  • The main fuel jet must be centered to lie concentric with the needle so it will not rub on one side. There is a jet centering "pin" included in the SU tool kit which makes short work of this alignment. With some personal attention and a little fiddling it is possible to center the jet without the special tool. Procedure is to loosen the BIG hex gland nut on the bottom to allow the jet gland to float, center the jet, and tighten the gland nut with the jet centralized. This is to be done once with initial assembly or during a rebuild, but should not need to be touched thereafter.
  • Check that there is oil in the damper tube on top of the dashpot. Oil level should be no higher than the top of the smaller inner bore of the moving piston. Lift the plunger a bit and press down. If you feel resistance to motion there is enough oil present without even looking. Any type of oil from ATF to 20W50 will work. When in doubt, thicker grades may work a little better. If you want to spend time fiddling with this you can tweak the oil viscosity to suite your driving preferences after the tune-up is finished. Purpose of the damper is to prevent fuel mixture from going lean on acceleration, which affects throttle response and possible hesitation.
    Carburetor Adjustment: Run the engine to normal operating temperature prior to adjusting the carburetors. The easy concept for adjusting

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