Winter Preparation

Octagon Newsletter September 1990

By Jack Baker

Well here we are, nearing the rainy season, time to put the MG and it's bright 'chick yellow' fan to bed for the winter. We had a great summer together so I decided to reward the 'B' with fresh anti-freeze, new oil and some nice red grease. I had never done these jobs myself before, except on a boat, so I read my owners manual, the shop manual and Haynes. Then I rushed out and bought a grease gun, a drain pan, oil, grease, and anti-freeze. I used the 'B' to make the pick-ups, so that the oil would be nice and warm for a good draining. While I was out, I filled the gas tank, partly to cut down on condensation in the tank and partly because it occurred to me that, by spring, I may be able to sell the gas and pay off the mortgage.

Home again, I threw myself under the car with my drain pan and wrench to get the warm oil out. This was no problem and I preferred the ants to the bilge water. I waxed and installed a new filter, replaced the drain plug and poured in the new oil. Didn't spill a drop, engine compartment still clean and shiny.

I removed the lower radiator hose to drain the radiator. I put a garden hose into the lower hose in an attempt to flush the engine. This was interesting because I was able to watch the radiator hose expand, it was like a time lapse movie on the growth of a water-melon, then pow, water everywhere. The new radiator hose was available in town for $33.50. Have you ever noticed that an MGB lower radiator hose seems to be giving you the bird?

Before installing the new hose I decided to remove the block drain plug. It's just between the distributor and the oil pressure gauge hose and, of course, behind all the ignition wiring. No socket I own would fit the plug, no wrench would reach it. I made several trips to the garage next door and at last was able to fit a socket. It seems some previous owner had used a chisel to deface the hexed head. At last I was able to carefully unscrew the plug. Instead of the flow I expected I got mud moist black mud. I was told to poke at this sediment until water ran. After two hours of poking I chucked an old eight inch piece of throttle cable into my electric drill and used it like a Roto-Rooter. This did the job in less than 10 seconds. Next I flushed the radiator for fifteen minutes then installed the new hose and ran water through the system until clean water came out of the block.

At this point Gordon arrived and we discussed the fun I was having. Gordon thought he had a copper washer in his trunk. I needed one to replace the one I mangled trying to free the block plug from the socket wrench. While we were looking I dropped the plug and it fell, as if on rails, through a one inch square hole in a manhole cover. Removing the cover revealed a ten foot drop to the murk below. So I got out my rubber gloves, removed miles of cobwebs, climbed down the ladder, inverted myself over the subterranean glug and fished for the plug. Upon my return with the plug, I replaced it's wrapped threads in the block, poured in a water anti-freeze mixture and said, "Boy, that only took me four hours".

I then cleaned up the endless mound of tools and washed out the engine compartment. I left the car in the drive ready for the MG Club Executive Meeting. I was set to enjoy a nice warm evening drive. Just at dusk I started the car, it leapt into purring life. Then I turned on the headlights. Briiiang crash, the starter engaged. Every time the lights were turned on the starter joined them. I shut off the ignition and turned on the lights the starter whirred into life.

I left the MG at home and drove the bloody Volvo. I thought that by the next day whatever I got wet would dry and all would be well.

No such luck, I drove the car over to Mike (The Wizard) Owen. He remarked that I always seem to get the good ones. Within fifteen seconds Mike found that a ground wire for the lights, located under the wiring bundle near the starter relay, had lost it's screw. His deduction was that because it's ground was lost, the headlight circuit was seeking an outlet through the starter relay. Mike gave me some emery paper, and a screw with the words "Here Jack, screw it yourself." It worked.

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