’69 MGB Repair Log
For archival purposes, here is the repair log for my departed 1969 MGB. Woah, lots of entries. I figure, if I ever miss Goldie too much, all I have to do is look at this and then I’d feel relieved she is gone. So far I have to say I am doing quite well without her.
- September 23, 1995 (Sat): We meet for the first time, and I am duly impressed.
- November 11, 1995 (Sat): For $3300, her pink slip is mine.
- December 6, 1995 (Wed): Goldie gets a new SU fuel pump.
- January 7, 1996 (Sun): On a 70 mile trip to Stockton, Goldie’s clutch goes out… but only 3 miles from home.
- January 28, 1996 (Sun): A woman in a 70s Porsche rear-ends me at a stop light. She’s totally at fault, but has a real attitude.
- March 1996: Bashed original rear bumper is sent out to be restraightened and rechromed. It’s gorgeous. Stay away from those repros…
- March 11, 1996 (Mon): Finally, back from the body shop, and looking pretty good.
- April 7, 1996 (Sun): At last, I install an alarm.
- April 12, 1996: Air pump seizes in Berkeley… but only 3 miles from work.
- April 19, 1996 (Fri): Vrroom vrroom. Goldie gets a freer-flowing front muffler.
- July-September 1996: 4 flat tires on one wheel. Woah.
- August 5-9, 1996: After 6 hours of removing her trim, Goldie gets some final body work and beautiful new paint from Maaco (you’d be most surprised…)
- August 9-19, 1996: It takes me 10 hours/10 days to put her back together, but it’s well worth it…
- August 14, 1996 (Wed): I finally install an eco-friendly new/used smog pump.
- August 21, 1996 (Wed): Thanks to Paul Watts for a new/used grill.
- September 8, 1996 (Sun): Goldie appears in her first car show, at All British Car Day in Palo Alto.
- October 11-14, 1996: In various parking lots, I fix a fuel leak, bleed the clutch line, resync. the carbs, replace the air filters…
- November 10, 1996 (Sun): For $18, I rebuild the clutch slave cylinder and replace a hose. No more hydraulic leak.
- December 13-14, 1996: I rebuild Goldie’s lower front suspension, including new springs and polyurethane bushings. What a difference-less vibration at high speed, but with slightly more road feel.
- December 15, 1996: I rewire the alarm… no more short circuits.
- December 25, 1996 (Wed): Santa (okay me) brings her some new [rear brake] shoes.
- January 1-2, 1997: For the New Year, Goldie gets some cool Smiths gauges measuring volts and amps…
- January 9, 1997 (Thu): Flying object cracked the windshield on the highway last (Fri)day, so I get a new one installed, courtesy of my insurance company.
- January 9, 1997 (Thu): I replace the really thin transmission oil with some fresh Castrol 20W-50, and shifting is definitely improved.
- March 21-26, 1997: Goldie gets the “Ironman award” for successfully completing a 1700-mile trip to Death Valley and L.A., requiring only a minor timing adjustment in a parking lot near West Covina.
- May 10, 1997 (Sat): I have to dissassemble the left front suspension and use lots of grease to eradicate an annoying polyurethane squeak.
- May 23, 1997 (Fri): Oh no. The driveshaft comes loose just hours after I ordered a new pair of U-joints.
- May 24, 1997 (Sat): A friend brings me to Campbell to fetch some parts so my car can be fixed by the shop today, just in time to help a friend with a car battery that’s totally jacked (hey Venus. :-)) Thanks a million, Jerry.
- May 25, 1997 (Sun): Now reminded of the importance of preventative maintenance, I fix a brake leak, do an oil change, and spray down the rear drums with brake cleaner.
- June 21, 1997 (Sat): We successfully complete yet another 800-mi round-trip jaunt to L.A. for the Grand Tour.
- June 28, 1997 (Sat): I unsuccessfully attempt to install a Petronix electronic ignition module for the last time and kill an already ailing battery in the process. Thanks to Maria for bringing me to Kragen to fetch a new one.
- September-October 3, 1997: Mysterious stalling out is caused by overgapped spark plugs.
- October 3, 1997 (Fri): Goldie gets a new set of halogen headlamps.
- November 1, 1997 (Sat): I adjust the valve lash and replace the smog pump, fuel filter, and spark plugs.
- November 15, 1997 (Sat): Alternator dies. But later in the week I replace it and get a new battery under warrantee for $6. Thanks to Gina for all her help.
- November 19, 1997 (Wed): Coolant leak under thermostat housing. A new gasket takes care of that…
- November 28, 1997 (Fri): I rebuild Goldie’s rear brake wheel cylinders. Ugh, what a job…
- December 9, 1997 (Tue): Woohoo. Goldie passes the very last CA smog test she’ll ever have to take…
- December 25, 1997 (Thu): Following her holiday tradition, Goldie dies again on a day when no shops or stores are open. It takes me three hours to diagnose a bad ignition coil and to bring her back to life…
- February 12, 1998 (Thu): On the way to Berkeley, Goldie gets her 8th (or 9th?) flat tire. Time for yet another tire and tube from British Wire Wheel.
- April 26, 1998 (Sun): I *finally* replace Goldie’s steering rack boots (I got motivated after your little CV-joint incident, Venus.), correct the taillight wiring (thanks Marty), and adjust the alignment.
- April 29, 1998 (Wed): Marty comes over and diagnoses a bad U-joint, saving me from removing Goldie’s engine the next weekend to fix what I thought was a clutch problem. He also adjusts Goldie’s brakes and greases her shift lever while teaching me good maintenance habits. Thanks again Marty.
- May 3-4 (Sat-Sun): I install new ball-joint boots, clean/grease Goldie’s hubs, and, most importantly, install new U-joints.
- May 11, 1998 (Mon): Goldie’s 6-month-old battery is kaput again, but Kragen provides a new one under warrantee for $3.82.
- May 17, 1998 (Sun): A walnut gear shift knob, chrome door pulls and window winders, and shiny new panel screws add a touch of class to Goldie’s interior.
- May 22, 1998 (Fri): I top off her shock absorbers and they dampen a lot better, at least temporarily.
- May 25, 1998 (Mon): A $4 chrome built-on tailpipe inproves Goldie’s looks and makes her growl even louder.
- May 30, 1998 (Sat): Goldie shows up at MGs at Jack London Square, and wins 3rd place in her class despite leaving 3 hours early.
- June 1, 1998 (Mon): The front left shock absorber is not damping again, so I finally install a new one.
- July 27, 1998 (Mon): The leak in Goldie’s radiator has become significant enough that I finally replace it.
- September 9, 1998 (Wed): I have to replace yet another U-joint after autocrossing on (Sun)day. Many thanks goes to Melissa, Cheryl, and Dave who got me home that day… you’re the greatest.
- September 12-13, 1998 (Mon): After a 2-year hiatus, Goldie returns to the Palo Alto British Car Show, and even goes on the wonderful Tour to the Sea the day before.
- September 27, 1998 (Sun): Argh. Another flat tire. This one is an overnight one caused by the tire innards chafing against the tube.
- October 13, 1998 (Tue)s: Oh no, total brake failure. We limp 10 miles home using extensive use of the handbrake and downshifting of gears…
- October 18, 1998 (Sun): I replace a rear brake cylinder, brake shoes, front brake pads, and brake hoses, and Goldie can stop once again. Thanks to Alissa D. for driving us both to Pinnacles for camping & rock climbing while Goldie was out of commission.
- October 30, 1998 (Fri): Argh, Goldie has her 11th flat tire, and British Wire Wheel closed for the weekend due to Halloween. This is the *sixth* time that Goldie has conked out on a holiday…
- November 5, 1998 (Thu): In the quest to end all flats, I get Goldie two new Vredestein tires and Michelin tubes.
- November 15, 1998 (Sun): So much for no more flat tires. This is Goldie’s 12th.
- December 21-23, 1998 (Mon-Wed): After I crash my Porsche, Goldie takes me on a 1100+ mi round trip to San Diego to visit a vacationing friend.
- December 26, 1998 (Sat): I install a Goldie’s Christmas present, which is a battery cut-off switch. Thanks for the idea, Marty.
- December 28, 1998 (Mon): Menlo Muffler replaces Goldie’s rear muffler with another glass-pack. She now sounds even more awesome than before.
- December 29, 1998 (Tue): I give Goldie another much-needed tune-up, and she can go up hills again.
- February 1999: Yikes. I disconnect the #2 spark plug wire, and there is NO CHANGE in power. In fact Goldie sounds better, so I drive the entire month with three spark plug wires.
- March 6, 1999 (Sat): After stopping by the Honda motorcycle dealership to look for a workshop manual for a friend’s CBR600F3 (hi Sarah. =)), Goldie dies due to an ignition problem and needs a tow. Ah well, I need to replace the cylinder head anyhow.
- March 14, 1999 (Sun): I pull Goldie’s cylinder head, and am astonished at what I see: the #2 exhaust valve has broken apart. No wonder the #2 cylinder was just a dead hole.
- March 16, 1999 (Tue): After extensive research, I decide to get a new aluminum cylinder head. I order one for $600 from Sports Cars International in New Mexico.
- March 26, 1999 (Fri): The new aluminum cylinder head has arrived.
- March 31, 1999 (Wed): The machine shop is done with the new aluminum cylinder head. It turns out that the old iron head had a 3-inch crack on top.
- April 4, 1999 (Sun): After breaking/drilling/retapping a bolt, and multiple trips to Orchard Supply and Kragen, I finally get everything back together on this Easter (Sun)day. But alas, Goldie refuses to start =(
- April 6, 1999 (Tue): After receiving new ignition parts, Goldie starts up for the first time in a month. Then I retorque the head and readjust the valve lash, and woohoo, my baby’s back on all four cylinders…
- April 7, 1999 (Wed): I free up a sticky choke cable and throttle shaft.
- July 10, 1999 (Sat): No logbook entries in awhile since Goldie has been so reliable lately… But today I do replace a broken choke cable and a snap on the tonneau cover.
- August 23, 1999 (Mon): A 240-mile drive to Santa Cruz, 17-Mile Drive, (Mon)terey, and back. Carolyn and I have to stop twice on Highway 17 to add coolant and change a spark plug, but yet she isn’t even phased.
- October 9, 1999 (Sat): Flat tire #13, this time the front left. As spokes are broken I go up to British Wire Wheel in Santa Cruz (having to stop many times on the way back similar to the Aug. 23 drive) and have the tire mounted on a brand new Dayton SS wire wheel. It’s beautiful.
- November 11, 1999 (Thu): It’s the 4th anniversary of Goldie and I. To celebrate, I begin to swap out her fuel pump, which almost leads to blowing up the garage. I am successful at changing her oil though.
- November 14, 1999 (Sun): I sold the Porsche. And since I have to go to my buddy Sarah’s, I get Goldie started for the first time in three weeks. Later that day I do successfully put in the new fuel pump.
- December 15, 1999 (Wed): Goldie’s battery is very weak and I have to get a jump and then buy a new battery. Battery was good for a year this time…
- January 3-9, 2000: Goldie actually does an acceptable job transporting 3 people around the East Bay. Woohoo, what a practical car.
- January 9-13, 2000: Starting woes again. Finally, I diagnose on (Thu)rsday that this is because the ignition timing is WAY too advanced; e.g., ~45 degrees BTDC.
- January 13, 2000 (Thu): I spend most of the night replacing ignition components, including distributor cap, rotor, points, condensor, spark plugs, and even the ignition coil (now using a standard voltage Lucas one).
- January 18, 2000 (Tue): Oh no. During my very first test drive of my recumbent at 3:00 a.m., I lose my ONLY set of car keys. I can’t drive Goldie today or tomorrow because of this…
- January 20, 2000 (Thu): I have successfully replaced the lock cylinder in Goldie’s ignition, and can drive her once again. In addition, I change the air filters and get the “self-cancelling” feature of the turn signals to work.
- April 4, 2000 (Sun): Despite still getting the daily driver duties, Goldie has not needed any work in 2.5 months–probably a new record for her under my ownership. Alas, I do have to replace the front U-joints today. Yes, again…
- October 13, 2000 (Fri): Goldie STILL has not needed a single major repair–this is certainly a record… I do sew up a large rip in her tonneau cover today, however.
- February 9, 2001 (Fri): Goldie’s no major repair streak ends after 8 or so months… she got a flat tire. Cause unknown; coworker pointed it out in Lam parking lot.
- February 16, 2001 (Fri): I give Goldie an oil change and a much-needed tune-up… she has far more pickup than before. Oil change @ odometer reading of 79247; before tune-up dynamic timing was at 7 degrees BTDC; after tune-up is ~15 BTDC.
- April 21, 2001 (Sat): A few miles to the start of the Devil Mountain Double, Goldie loses all compression in one of the cylinders. Amazingly, after the race she is able to limp the 35 miles back home on 3 cylinders, though making horrible noises.
- May 2, 2001 (Wed): I finally get around to pulling Goldie’s cylinder head, and am alarmed at what I see. The #4 piston had deformed and can no longer create a tight seal in the cylinder, explaining the lack of compression. This will require a complete engine rebuild, a project for a later date. In the meantime I begin the process of searching for, and subsequently buying, a house.
- December 31, 2001: I have not done a thing on the MG since removing the cylinder head in May. Right now she is a nice museum piece, complete with picnic basket, in the garage of my new home, which we moved into in July. At least she is staying warm this winter. Well, next year she will be cruisin’ the roads again, I promise.
- February 17-18, 2002 (Sun-Mon): I finally get around to pulling Goldie’s engine, which goes without a hitch in less than 2 days of work. Thanks to Rick Adachi for lending me his engine hoist.
- February 20, 2002 (Wed): Delivered the engine to a machine shop just a few blocks away from my house. My goal is to have the engine rebuilt before the annual MGs at Jack London Square show.
- April 9, 2002 (Tue): Dropped off the radiator to reweld the side brackets and radiator neck, which had sprung a small leak a couple of years ago.
- April 19, 2002 (Fri): Woohoo. Engine is done at the machine shop, and Tori helps pick it up with her truck. Thanks, Tori.
- April 23, 2002 (Tue): I paint the engine the original MGB engine red.
- May 4, 2002 (Sat): Clean and partially paint Goldie’s engine compartment.
- May 5, 2002 (Sun): I install the engine and transmission together (with new clutch.)
- May 6, 2002 (Mon): Install the rear transmission mounts and the driveshaft.
- May 7, 2002 (Tue): Install exhaust header.
- May 8, 2002 (Wed): Install the cylinder head other ancillary engine components.
- May 9, 2002 (Thu): I paint the cooling fan, thermostat housing, intake manifold, etc. and install those.
- May 10, 2002 (Fri): Install the carbs and everything else, prime the engine, and start Goldie up for the veryfirst time in 1 year and a month… Alas, only for a few seconds… then oil started leaking all over the floor dueto the continuously oil filter coming off. Miss showing her at MG’s at JLS because of that.
- May 12, 2002 (Sun): Dan Shockey, this year’s president of theMGOC, generously gives me a new oil filter assy to try, buteven unstripped threads the oil filter blows off. Must be a stuck oil pressure release valve…
- June 26 2002 (Wed): I replace the stuck oil pressure release valve and shestarts up right away (after I jump the battery) and drive her on the streets for the firsttime in 14 months. What a great birthday present. (Miles on odometer: 92212 = 0 miles on engine)
- June 27 2002 (Thu): Have Kragen check Goldie’s battery, and it’s good. They fully charge it for me.
- June 28 2002 (Fri): I drive Goldie to work for the first time this year.
- October 10 2002 (Thu): I change Goldie’s oil and filter. Still no oil leaks.(Miles on odometer: 93000 exactly)
- January 25, 2003 (Sat): I finally get around to retorquing Goldie’s cylinder head and re-adjusting her valves. I also replace the oil pressure sender which stopped working reliably a few months ago. (Miles on odometer: ~91192).
- February 1, 2003 (Sat): I stay up until 5:00 a.m. to eliminate some new oil leaks (just required tightening bolts on the tappet covers and oil pan), bending the exhaust pipe away from Goldie’s underbody (to stop a growling/vibrating noise), and modify the distributor clamp after rotating the distributor 90 degrees for better accessibility to the clamp bolt. Dial in the timing statically, but can’t do it dynamically for fear of waking up the entire neighborhood.
- February 2, 2003 (Sun): Goldie officially returns to daily driver status.
- February 3, 2003 (Mon): Unfortunately Goldie was running poorly between 1500-2500 RPM on the way to/from the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve with Merry. So this morning I busted out my 1967 Sears Dwell Tachometer ($10 on Ebay.) and found out the culprit: the dwell was 68 degrees, way higher than the spec 60 degrees. I opened up the distributor points, got the dwell down to 59 degrees, and adjusted the timing to 15-16 degrees BTDC at idle… and what a difference. Goldie is smoother, more powerful than she ever was in many, many years..
- February 21, 2003 (Fri): I drain and replace the gear oil in Goldie’s rear differential for the very first time under my ownership (~2.25 pints in; before which only about .5 pints came out.) Also, tighten the bolts to the speedometer cable on the tranny, where I suspected a little bit of oil was leaking from. (Miles on odometer: ~91700).
- March 2, 2003 (Sun): Some things never change. The day after a successful journey to/from Davis for the Davis 200km Brevet, I take Venus to the airport when Goldie overheats just 2 miles from the terminal. Don’t worry though, we made it there ok, and after waiting for an our, I fill up Goldie’s radiator and she is back on the road running as well as ever.
- March 18, 2003 (Tue): I replace Goldie’s radiator and battery cutoff switch with new parts. I also remove the aftermarket fan installed by the PO which had a broken mount which was causing a mysterious klunk everytime I drove over a bump, and also seemed to actually BLOCK air to the radiator since it would only actuate when the water got really hot. In any case, Goldie is running much cooler and solidly now. She’s really becoming robust.
- May 10, 2003 (Sat): Goldie returns to MGs at Jack London Square for the first time in several years.
- May 23, 2003 (Fri): With a $20 torch from Orchard Supply Hardware, some soldering material and flux, I learn how to braze. I successfully repair a hairline leak at the neck of Goldie’s radiator.
- May 30, 2003 (Fri): Goldie gets new California Kids Advocacy license plates, “because she loves mountain roads, empty roads, and mountain rides…”
- August 29, 2003 (Fri): I have to rebraze the radiator neck again. This time, I use a lot more brazing material so hopefully it should last.
- October 27, 2003 (Mon): Goldie gets the whole clean, polish, and carnuba wax job. Thanks to Mike Jacobsen for lending me his orbital buffer.
- October 30, 2003 (Thu): Oil change and filter. Mileage on odometer: 96926. Also give Goldie’s windshield and windows the Rain-X treatment.
- April 16, 2004 (Tue): New NGK resistor spark plugs for Goldie. What a difference. Odometer: 98000 est.
- April 20, 2004 (Sat): At Laguna Seca, Goldie takes back to the track after several years. With Sharon and the MGOC.
- June 28, 2004 (Mon): Similar to the accident in 1996, Goldie and I are rear-ended yet again while just waiting at a red light. This time, the car behind me was rear-ended, which in turn pushed that car into mine. The two cars behind sustained no damage but Goldie did. Oh well, at least this time all the parties involved were easy to work with, and I’ve already been reimbursed by the insurance companies.
- June 10, 2005 (Fri): Oil and filter change. New NGK V-split spark plugs. Adjusted timing (15 deg. TDC, 60 degrees dwell). Topped off carburetors and tried to synchronize them, not the most successfully. Seemed like carburetor #2 is idling a little fast, permanently. May need a rebuild. Miles on odometer: 99482.
- November 27, 2005 (Sun): Last drive of 2005 until June 2006.
- June 16, 2006 (Fri): She roars again.
- June 19, 2006 (Mon): Replace faulty spark plug wires with spare (maybe 15-year-old?) ones.
- July 26, 2006 (Wed): Drive 1150 miles from Stockton, CA to Fort Collins, CO. Three flat tires!
- July 28, 2006 (Fri): New ignition wires, distributor cap, rotor..
- September 2, 2006 (Sat): New passenger seat handle.
- September 19, 2006 (Tue): Hot tank new cylinder head.
- November 16, 2006 (Thu): Install new cylinder head, new air injection manifold, check valve, valve seals.
- December 16, 2006 (Sat): New air filters, oil change.
- August 3, 2007 (Fri): Install new (used) heater valve. Mileage: 103,558.
- November 1, 2007 (Thu): Last drive.
- November 8, 2007 (Thu): Goldie is off to her new owner. Farewell, Goldie—I will remember ya.
There are 3 comments.
Brother, I feel your pain and ambivalence at loss. I bought a 1971 MGB (with wire wheels, what was I thinking?) in high school. Within a few weeks, the #3 rod end cap dropped; the piston slowly slid down, eventually getting smashed against the block wall by the crankshaft, cracking the block. Having little money left, I was lucky to finagle my way into auto shop class where I rebuilt the cylinder head and SU carbs. I paid a shop to do the lower-end after finding a used block. I took the MGB to college but was constantly being repeatedly financially abused by natural rubber (idiots!) hydraulics that failed, rust (Indiana salts its roads), flaky electrical components, the innate trouble of many used parts, the cost of anything. It seemed every drive led to a new problem, a new failure outright or clearly in the making.
I did learn that many things on a car are in fact luxuries. When the heater's core went--fluid began pooling about my passenger's feet with every right left turn--I went to see what a new heater core would cost: too much! And buying a used one is silly, since it's likely degraded as well. So I just looped the hose, bypassing the heater But who needs heat in an MGB anyway? That's what kickpad engine vents that roast the feet, layers of clothing, and speeding to destination are for.
Yet when that car ran, it was wonderful! Slamming into third, noisily bouncing along rural roads, top down (even into late November), the seating position, the superb ergonomics, the quirkiness. Oh, and not metric.
I eventually sold my MGB for almost nothing just to get rid of it following its final collapse (wire fell off the gas pump, but I no longer cared to seek the problem). Part-time jobs at college, especially when lacking access to a proper garage, didn't provide the cash necessary to keep such a vehicle going, and I had by then a new 600cc motorcycle that was far more reliable, as much fun, and almost as warm in winter.
I always wanted a Datsun roadster, essentially a Japanese MGB (they even had SU-licensed carbs--lame). An MGB that would run and have minimal electrical problems. Ye gods, what a machine that must have been! But I never found one.
1969 MGB - I had a 1963 'B' when I was in college and then I bought a new one in England while in the service. First wife decided it was too small.
After two wives, five kids, at 63 I decided to try again... I purchased a '69. Has a pretty red paint job and I think I drove it about 20 miles before I decided to check things out!
The SUs were worked on by someone that had NO IDEA how. After that I replaced the alternator (bad wiring shorted it out!). Took the battery (12VDC) that was in the trunk just "sitting there," and bought a $189.00 ion-lithium that I installed in front of the passenger seat area of the engine. Haven't powered it up yet!
No grease in the left front wheel and damn little in the right front one. I haven't gotten to the rear wheels yet!
I did rebuild the R & L floor boards and made my own padding & mats. So far it looks great. I've ordered carpet, marine quality, to replace the black shag that someone had installed. Weather is getting too cold/wet to work outside; I have to call in a few favors to get it into a friend's garage for a few weeks to work on the engine. I might need a valve job or at least a new head and valves to handle the unleaded gas.
I may have to go back to work just to keep it on the road.
It did have a slow leak in one tire. The tube rubbed wrong at the valve. The spoke wheels have me worried!
Pulled the dash two days ago to repair the heater and choke controls. Reset the odometer to "0" and lubed it. Replacing the oil pressure sensor and am installing an 'idiot' light for pressure loss.
I wish could upload a few pic's!
It is now August of 2015, a lot has happened!
Had to have the engine rebuild two years back, it runs Great now, they were an "Old "engine repair shop, here in Pittsburgh. Nobody under 55 and the equipment was from the 50's. It started up on the second try. There are some oil leaks but thats part of owning an MG. "Otherwise they would rust more!"
New - dash cover, top replaced and I installed the removable type support for it, tonneau cover (not installed yet), seat cushions, radiator,alternator, full pump, installed new speedometer, rebuilt front shocks and replaced rear oil seal. New parking brake cable assembly. Replaced clutch while the engine was out. Totally rebuilt front end, with all new rubber. Repaired the 'crack of doom'.
Other than that, not too much more.
I did buy an early 1974 MGB two years ago and haven't done a whole lot to it except a new top.
I'm running out of cash!! Social Security isn't much and family seem to eat a lot of it up.
At least I always have one of them running!
Enjoying the nice summer days!