CRISES COME IN THREES…
A series of misfortunes strikes the ’B, leaving John with a fight against the clock to get it road-ready
Things come in threes, right? And the rule of thirds has been proven again by my daily driver MGB GT. First of all, my wash-wipe rocker switch stuck down, which burnt out the washer motor as it ran empty and blew a fuse. Then the aftermarket Linwood Electronics intermittent wiper system failed as well. I didn’t have to wait long for the third thing.
Later the following day I left the car in a Birmingham car park while I had a meal with friends. On trying to set off for home afterwards the MG was reluctant to start and ran poorly, missing just a bit at high revs. I got home, but noticed that I also had no wipers and no blower. Opening the bonnet revealed why – rats!
Every HT lead was eaten away and numerous other wires had chunks bitten out of them. Coupled with my blown washer motor and failed wiper system, I had a lot of wiring work to do. I hate wiring, but ended up spending all weekend sorting out the ’B’s electrics, because I needed it as transport the following week.
The first problem was the wash-wipe momentary switch. Exhaustive phone calls and research showed that no-one makes sprung momentary switches that match the rockers on early 1970s MGB (unless you know different – please let me know if you do!). In desperation I bought a Jaguar XJ6 Series 3 switch from Holden (01885 488488, holden. co.uk) but it was a bit too big and too deep for the hole. I tried to make it fit using a file and my trusty rotary tool, but stupidly destroyed the switch in the attempt. Two hours and 20 quid wasted – not a good start. In the end, I carefully rebuilt the original switch, removing the silicone damper and replacing it with an epoxymounted spring from a pen. Amazingly, it seems to work! A new washer motor completed that task and the system was up and running again – flick the switch and it fires the washers then gives two fast and one slow sweep of the wipers a second later. I’d use it on all my cars
As an aside, I found the wiring instructions for both Linwood items impossible to read because they are so small, so I scanned them and printed them out much larger. Computers can aid classic cars! I’ve used the same trick before to create gaskets by putting an item on a scanner, printing it out using gasket paper and then cutting out the gasket. Obviously this only works for things that are small and light; I won’t be held responsible if you smash your scanner’s glass with a differential casing!
The intermittent wiper function presented a more serious challenge as the wiring had come off and was hideously complicated, at least to an electrics simpleton like me. In the end, I started from scratch using new wires as they had become chafed and hardened, with bits of copper poking out of the edge of Scotchloks – a fire in waiting. I persevered with it, even though it took almost seven hours to sort in the end (it involved a careful rebuild of the rotating switch) because the intermittent wiper system is brilliantly simple – I’ve never seen another system half as good as the Linwood.
The rodent damage was soul destroyingly horrible to fix. It was random and all over the engine bay, resulting in much splicing of new wires using heat shrink insulation and spade connectors, plus an entire new set of HT leads.
I had a fully working MGB by the end of Radio 4’s The Westminster
Hour at 11pm on Sunday night after an entire weekend dedicated to getting my car back to the condition it had been in just a week before. I’m not sure what depressed me more, the proximity of rats to city dwellers, or the fact that I made the mistake of looking it up online…
‘I had a fully working MGB by the end of Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour at 11pm on Sunday night’
Intermittent wiper switch needed a full rebuild. Rats snacked on the ‘B’s HT leads. John about to destroy a £20 Jaguar rocker switch. Scotch lock nightmare.
The ‘B back on the road after a weekend spent rewiring its electrics.