To Start or Not to Start

Octagon Newsletter January 1991

By Jack Baker

This last summer my wife, Eve, daughter, Stace and I all decided that we would like to go to Bend, Oregon for the MG Gathering of the Faithful (GoF). Since we could not all fit in the MG we decided to take two cars. Stace and Eve in the Buick, (who needs canned air) and me in the MG. Since, rumour has it MGs are not reliable, I carried a spare fuel pump. In order that we keep in touch, I bought two hand‑held emergency CB radios.

Off we went, Stena Line Ferry to Seattle, then to our first stop in Longview. Radio's great, car's fine. Next day we arrived in Bend, 105 degrees. I loved it in the MG, but the air conditioned Buick stalled in slow manoeuvres, parking, etc. Next morning as I was about to rush away to Mt. Bachelor, the MG had no juice. Previous experience said 'battery terminal'. Flat on my back on the road, I was able to reach under the car and with two fingers wiggle the battery in it's little cage. If you leave the radio or heater fan on, you can tell when contact has been made. This trick worked and off I went. I had much fun on the long uphill drive, the 'T' series went by like a picket fence.

We had a great time in Bend, the weather remained hot, but outside of falling off a horse named George, we had fun. I only had to jiggle the 'G's battery twice more. On our way to Nelson, BC we stopped for lunch in Biggs, Oregon, 107 degrees. We had a nice lunch and returned to our cars. By now I had developed a complex about starting cars, you kind of get used to turning the key and hearing "broom broom broom", my life was turning into a "curse curse curse". I held my breath, turned the key and, hurrah "broom broom broom".

I noted the girls waving at me from the Buick. I turned off the MG and walked over to the Buick. It won't start. I tried it no juice. Tried rocking it, nothing. Everything dead. I knew the battery was 'OK', so open the hood and check the battery cable, seems 'OK'. Eve has rented a motel room and left me to my own devices. Walked to nearby gas station, Zeke the head mechanic spits out his straw and comes with me. He suggests jumper cables. I say no use it's not the battery, aren't we supposed to whack the starter or something? Nope he says we need to jump it. He tried it his way, nothing. The garage is five car lengths away but he says we have to call the tow truck from Rufus. The truck arrives to tow me to garage but the driver says, "yaw whack the starter?" He got a hatchet from the truck and whacked her a goodun. Tryer! I did, she caught. Paid him $20.00 and he left.

When we arrived at Nelson, after several jigglins and whackens, I fixed the MG's problem by replacing a loose terminal screw and then got to it with the Buick. Woolco, in Nelson, said it was the starter solenoid and replaced it for $75.00. "Hurrah", I drove one block, stopped for a small celebration, only to find my "hurrah" was premature. I had to whack her again. Woolco said that the entire starter would have to be replaced at a cost of over $200.00. I found a marine auto-electric place. They rebuilt it for $85.00. I watched the man do it, there were no brushes left in the starter. I got a $45.00 refund from Woolco, because they didn't look inside when they had the starter off.

So now I have learned whack the starter, make sure repairs are complete, and keep the terminals tight. Oh I should mention that the two emergency hand-held CB radios only worked until the first hot day, then the heat ruined their speakers. Canadian Tire gave me a refund. I still jump when I turn the key and hear that amazing "broom broom broom".

P.S. - Zeke got a new hatchet for Christmas.

P.P.S. - I have a spare fuel pump.

P.P.P.S. - George the horse had to be evacuated in order to escape a forest fire.

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