Warning! When working on the car - electrical,
mechanical or body - it may well be highly desirable to disconnect the battery first. When doing this always remove the earth/ground connection first and replace last,
and this is regardless of whether the car is negative earth/ground or positive earth/ground.
The reason for this is that if your spanner should happen to touch the body whilst it is also touching the earth/ground post of the battery nothing will happen. Once the earth/ground connection is removed and if you want to remove the battery it is now safe to undo the 12v (aka 'hot' or 'live') connection, because if your spanner should happen to touch the body while it is on the hot post still nothing will happen because the earth/ground connection has already been removed.
If you remove the 12v connection first and the spanner touches the body whilst doing so, you will generate a large spark which can ignite any battery gases that may be present, or maybe even cause the battery to explode in your face!
"Listen to your car, it is talking to you." Get used to how you car sounds, feels, looks, smells (and tastes, if so inclined), and investigate any changes BEFORE you get a breakdown. I read this on the BBS or Mailing List some time ago. I can't remember who wrote it, but I salute you.
"Don't assume that because you have found one problem, you have found the ONLY problem." How true, particularly with Lucas electrics, and thanks to Nory for this pearl of wisdom.
Don't change parts willy-nilly in an attempt to fix a problem. It is expensive and you may just disturb the fault (particularly electrics) only for it to reappear (probably in the dark and the rain) another day. Think of how the circuit in question is supposed to work, investigate why it doesn't, prove which bit is faulty, then replace/repair it. Which leads me on to:
Many break-downs occur soon after a car has been worked on; 'new' parts can be faulty when you receive them; 'new' parts will sometimes fail soon after fitting; 'new' parts almost certainly won't last as long as the originals.
An MG is never 'finished', if there is nothing for you to currently work on it is merely 'resting'.
A manual is an aid to common-sense, without common-sense any manual is useless.
"Progress" is not assumed to mean "something better." - Amish tenet.
And my own favourite - "If you haven't found a use for something yet, you haven't kept it long enough".
And finally the quote of quotes:
"Al, bent over the wheel, kept shifting eyes from the road to the instrument panel, watching the ammeter needle, which jerked suspiciously, watching the oil gauge and the heat indicator. And his mind was cataloguing weak points about the car. He listened to the whine, which might be the rear end, dry; and he listened to tappets lifting and falling. He kept his hand on the gear lever, feeling the turning gears through it.
"Listen to the motor. Listen to the wheels. Listen with your ears and with your hands on the steering wheel; listen with the palm of your hand on the gearshift lever; listen with your feet on the floorboards. Listen to the pounding old jalopy with all your senses; for a change of tone, what a variation of rhythm might mean. That rattle - that's tappets. Don't hurt a bit. Tappets can rattle till Jesus comes again without no harm. But that thudding as the car moves along - can't hear that - just kind of feel it. Maybe oil isn't gettin' someplace. Maybe a bearing's startin' to go..."
The Grapes Of Wrath
It was near life and death for the people Steinbeck was writing about, but does it strike a chord?
February 2013: To bring things right up to date I came across this in a 2011 book about a 5000 mile solo ride through South Africa on a classic British bike by Steve Wilson - "Short Way Up". It was originally written by Peter Egan about bikes, but I think it applies equally well to our cars:
"We call them British, but they aren't British at all. They are Greek, in the classic dramatic sense, like the men and Gods in Homer. Beautiful, spirited, heroic, flawed, and full of fateful games that measure hubris against honour, and seek to test our tenacity and sense of adventure. They are here to see what we are made of, not to be our friends."
The information on these pages has been gleaned from the official factory Workshop Manual, Haynes, Clausager and others plus training and personal experience in electro-mechanical engineering and LBC ownership over many years. It is not intended to reproduce verbatim whole chunks of workshop manuals and other reference sources, more to pull together that wealth of knowledge and experience that comes from actually working on these cars, by others as well as myself, that is rarely in 'official' publications. Also to pull together information that may have been published elsewhere but in several different sources and/or times. E&OE. Which means 'Errors and Omissions Excepted'. Which means I have tried to make it accurate,
but cannot be held responsible if it isn't, though do tell me of any errors. There is also no substitute for you owning the relevant manuals yourselves, have a look in my Virtual Bookshop.