CRISES COME IN THREES…

A se­ries of mis­for­tunes strikes the ’B, leav­ing John with a fight against the clock to get it road-ready

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics - JOHN LAKEY

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.

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