Laguna Seca or Bust!!

Octagon Newsletter … October 1996

By Len Smith

We had an excellent trip, trying to keep up to the MGBs, until we stopped for fuel at Santa Rosa and the car wouldn’t start - my eight year old six-volt batteries had given up. After a group consultation, the problem was diagnosed as the starter, so everyone pushed and we were on our way (imagine how difficult it is to push a car that is towing a trailer). Everything was 'OK' until our fuel pump quit at 70 m.p.h. in the middle lane of a six-lane freeway. We made it to the shoulder and still had the trailer with us. As we pondered the fuel pump problem, (I feel your pain Peter Lee), the pump started to work again. We had no further problems until 27 miles from Salinas when the head gasket blew and we were towed by AAA to the motel. We ordered three head gaskets from Moss Motors, one for California and two for the trip home, (Len Smith - disciple of Murphy). We then went out to enjoy the sights of Laguna Seca.

At 4:00 a.m. the next day, Cam Russell and I changed the head gasket by flashlight. This was after we noted that one tire had picked up a nail and was not round on the bottom. We cranked the engine, with the plugs, removed, and promptly sprayed anti-freeze all over the car parked beside us. So much for flashlight repairs. It was now 8:00 a.m., so we forgot about the MGA, rented the last available car in Salinas and enjoyed an excellent weekend.

Monday morning, we removed the head and found major corrosion in a water passage. We found a replacement head, got everything together by 4:00 p.m. and by 6:30 p.m. the MGA was running again, with no leaks!

Tuesday morning, we were on the road to Lake Tahoe at 5:30 a.m. Thirty miles later we blew the water out of the radiator. I bought a torque wrench at Hollister and re-tightened the head. Found out later that the torque wrench was about ten pounds away from being accurate, so I hope I don’t have to take off that head again!

Except for intermittent fuel pump problems on the way home, the rest of the tour was uneventful and, apart from these minor inconveniences, we enjoyed an excellent trip.

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