Toby’s Story part 2
Michael Beswick

Time to tighten up the suspension, so out came all the floppy rubber bushes and in went smart purple Superflex bushes. Whilst I was at it, it seemed sense to replace the front springs too. A thicker roll bar was also fitted. I also fitted castor wedges that would lighten up the steering. Unfortunately I couldn’t really remember how heavy it was before I fitted them, and couldn’t tell the difference!

Next was a trip back to Spain and I noticed how much more comfortable Toby was when ballasted with the Navigator and the luggage. Maybe time to investigate the rear springs.

I had followed the perceived advice and had fitted Konis on the rear. Various bulletin boards were perused, some suggesting the original lever arm and multi-leaf spring were the best, others extolling the virtue of tube shocks. There were also many horrific tales of new rear springs requiring people sitting in the boot to get them to fit! Finally, I chose parabolic springs, based more on the fact that the price might mean they are built to spec –not to price. Subsequently, V8 owners seem to have managed to “wind them up”, but not having 250 bhp , I might be OK- we shall see!

Despite looking the part, as I had had them sand blasted and painted, I was aware that the wire wheels were probably old! Spokes were getting loose (and replaced), but common sense dictated replacement. So, for Christmas, Toby got a set of chrome wires. The slightly wider 175 meant that new tyres were also needed –Yokohama A drive.

I had always felt that a battery cut-out would be useful. Partly as security, partly as a way to isolate the battery when working on the car. I also felt that relays for the headlights would be a useful first step to improved lighting.

By this time I had started working as a part time MOT Tester, so had access to all sorts of useful goodies! Fitting the cut out switch was fairly straightforward, in the –‘ve side. Trouble was, the radio kept losing the pre-set stations! No matter, a lightweight earth with an inline 3 Amp fuse was fitted through the battery lid and hidden under the carpet.  This also allows the battery conditioner to be plugged into the cigar lighter socket over the winter, without leaving the cut out switch in place.

I had noticed that BMWs had a +’ve tag under the bonnet. This seemed a good idea for an MG, as opposed to trying to jump start from behind the seats. It would also provide a source of power for the headlamp relays.  Careful hacking of a redundant lead  allowed a connection to the +’ve feed on the starter motor up to a “connection box” mounted on the inner wing. One  connector nut was replaced by a tapped brass tube to act as a stud, the other would allow +’ve feeds.

About this time the rad started to leak (yet again).  Fed up with sub standard parts, I took it to a local radiator re-builder. Whilst rebuilding, he also fitted a drain plug (to avoid having to wrench the bottom hose off-there’s not much room with the extra supercharger pulleys) and tapped in a connection to fit the fan sensor.

I’d read about a guy who had designed an electronic switch for the overdrive. With the standard manual switch, if you changed down the box to second, say for a roundabout, and then up, the gap between second and overdrive third was too long. Of course I should drop it out of overdrive whilst changing down, but being mounted on the dash, one runs out of hands. This electronic box automatically dropped it out of overdrive when changing down to second. So changing up lost the “gap” and a simple push button re-engaged the overdrive. (it also has a button to disengage o/d) Connection was simple –just across the terminals of the existing switch which remains in place. He also produced a neat buzzer , fitted across the flasher unit to remind me to cancel the indicator. Great when the hood is down –noisy when its up!

Navigator developed sciatica, so no trips for a year, whilst she endured everything from acupuncture to Pilates....Meanwhile our MG friends enjoyed a sunny summer trip to the Italian lakes....Snow in Switzerland and rain in Italy.....

Then some idiot suggested a trip for the MG friends...So off to Britanny. We had felt that sometimes the distances travelled on a near daily basis meant that some trips became a bit of a route march, with the driver missing out of the scenery. In addition, different hotels each night meant  you were always packing and unpacking.  So 3-4 nights in nice Chateau & Relais hotels and a gentle circuit that took us just into the Loire region.  Just before we went, I noticed one of the support bolts for the supercharger bracket was missing. Panic –these are non standard parts from the USA, as they have countersunk heads and an Allen key drive.... I managed to source correct length standard hex headed bolts, and a mate who makes clocks turned countersunk washers.

Brilliant weather. Toby met a new friend- TUJ. A fire-breathing V8 monster (or was that the driver?) that made the most wonderful noise, despite having to be “run-in”. Brand new interior, with really comfy seats. I drove it, but being tall, everybody laughed at me, as I stuck out of the top...

Unfortunately for TUJ, an elderly French lady driver got far too close and personal –entente was far from cordiale-Toby offered to hold his coat.....

The other V8 developed an intermittent misfire and then an intermittent non-start.  This proved a touch tricky, as the driver is banned by his mechanic from “fiddling”....despite carrying the most comprehensive tool kit known to man. A cunning plan was devised-if he didn’t fiddle -we could! He could then say he had been overwhelmed by MG drivers desperate to fettle!

Toby, meantime had developed a “tinkle” type noise on take-off, and the new spring bushes were squeaking a bit. WD40 fixed the squeak but the tinkle persisted, later to develop into a vibration at 60 mph.

Stopping for petrol on the run back to Caen to catch the evening ferry, the fourth car refused to re-start. We checked the spark, we checked the plugs, we checked the fuel.....Hang on –no ignition light....At that point the driver casually mentioned that his garage had fitted a new multiplug at the steering column.... Push, click ...and off we went...

Driving home up the M3 showed the vibration to be worse, so next day I took Toby to have his wheels balanced. They were fine but just to check we put him up on a ramp. Twiddled the prop shaft, and yup –more play than  a........Luckily they had a prop and could fit it there and then.

So, the moral is, if you have a tinkle.....

A few weeks later saw us on a “boys’ weekend” to Le Mans 24Hours Classic . First time for TUJ and his driver, so while us old timers went home on Saturday night, they stayed throughout the night and managed to blag their way on to the pit wall to watch Classic MGs with Barry Sideways Smith. Apparently TUJ was built at the place owned by the driver /mechanic for BSS. Ecstatic driver with floppy grin for rest of the week-end!  The other V8 ran well, but, you’ve guessed it, a problem with starting! Trying to start after dinner on Saturday night required the assistance of lots of willing French people !

The rest of summer this year has been pretty much a wash-out. But I decided I should fit the new heater valve I had bought last year. I specifically chose the “original” type, at slightly higher cost. You’ve guessed it –it leaks! I tried to nip up the lugs around the edge, but no better. I put epoxy metal round the joint –it still leaked! So a small polythene bag round the whole fitting held on with an elastic band to prevent it dripping on the distributor.....and I bought another valve.....(thank god for the drain plug in the rad...) I wouldn’t mind, but the only reason for changing the old one, was that it would not turn fully off- a plastic label was lodged in the diaphragm)

Last year we finally built the garage - which means there is no excuse for not finishing the jobs that are currently on the list. Trouble is the list keeps growing.......The joy of owning an MG......

Michael Beswick