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1979 MGB

1800 cc OHV 4-cylinder
4-Speed w/Overdrive
Luggage Rack

Phooka: an animal spirit of Great Britain that takes you for a wild ride and leaves you stranded


November 18, 2018 - Phooka has had some issue when it first starts - missing, racing, rough running.  Once it warmedd up it was smooth and strong.  My initial suspect was the water-type automatic choke, a common problem with the original Zenith carbs. A good manual choke conversion kit came up on eBay and I got it in yesterday.  The conversion took a good bit of time, mostly in fitting the control cable in such a way it didn't look tacked on.  I ended up using the hole for the dash light rheostat, a never-used electronic control that was also bad.  The result looks factory and works well.  At least, it works the choke mechanism.  Phooka is living up to its name, for after all that work the start was even worse - though it was not missing, the idle was much higher and would not kick down for a bit, and it jumps back up to high idle.  I suspect something in the emissions electronics.  I also got in new lug nuts to replace the rusted ones on the car, and took time to adjust the brakes and handbrake.  That solved a weak handbrake issue and improved the braking quite a bit!
November 11, 2018 - Despite brisk temperatures, I was able to take Phooka out for a nice top-down drive to my Mom's.  The car won her over immediately - she loves the color combination and the overall look.  No more clutch issues - the makeshift clevis pin must have been the culprit.  I still need to get the carburetor sorted out.  I have a  rebuild kit and a manual choke conversion on the way. Once the car warms up it is really quick and smooth.  I'd like to keep the Zenith if I can.  I am also looking at an electronic distributor setup to replace the early points-style distributor in the car now,  It has a Lucas 25D, which is not quite right for the later cars, but seems to do OK. 
November 10, 2018 - While the weather and Daylight Savings Time have conspired to limit my tinkering time after work, I have gotten several things accomplished on Phooka.  First of all, the new hazard light switch fixed the turn signals, as expected.  Also, the personalized 'PHOOKA' plates came in, and I was able to restore the original front plate mount, which I have never seen before.  This morning I decided to replace the clutch pushrod and clevis pin, which a wise man (Yes, Chip, I am speaking about you) told me is often the cause of clutch issues due to wear and/or jury-rigs.  It seems that Phooka suffered from both.  In order to save about $2, the 'mechanic' who put in the clutch substituted a nut and bolt for the correct clevis pin, which he/she then cranked down tight enough to bend the clutch arm forks!  You can see that bolt is also deformed in the center. The new clevis seems to have cured the lag in clutch release I have sometimes encountered. I also replaced the smog pump and air filters, and installed new spark plugs.  All simple stuff so far.
November 3, 2018 - The electrical issue was easy to find - a really awful battery clamp!  Besides being worn out and having mismatched hardware, it was actually broken completely apart!  A $3.99 trip to O'Reilly's netted a nice new cable end and the electrics are back on.  I also fixed the turn signals, though I need to get a new hazard warning switch, and installed the new driver's armrest that came with the car.  Another potential issue is the battery, which dates back almost six years!  The last real issue for me is the cooling fan jury-rig.  I now have everything I need to wire in a new radiator thermostatic switch with a relay so the fans will only come on when needed. So far, it looks like Phooka's issues are just minor maintenance details.
November 2, 2018 - A couple of new bulbs got all the running lights working, and a fuse fixed the radio and the emergency flashers. I even got the courtesy light to come on with the door.  The turn signals remain unresponsive even with a new flasher - I need to track down the circuit.  Of course, with that much success, the car suddenly went completely dead.  I expect it has a loose cable or bad battery, but it was too late and a little drizzly, so I will wait until tomorrow to track down the issue.  I did locate a radio manual online - quite a fancy rig, with Bluetooth and a USB input!
November 1, 2018 - The Moss parts showed up and I had time to install the new hood bumpers and the fuse block.  The seller found the front license plate bracket, which I will pick up Saturday.
October 31, 2018 - I had a few hours of daylight after work and time before trick-or-treaters started showing up, so I decided to attack the MGB's paint.  While presentable, it was a bit dull.  A three-stage attack with clay bar, polish, and wax brought it out quite nicely.  The parts have not arrived from Moss yet - a bit disappointing as they are usually a two-day turnaround), but I did get the car registered and insured.  Personalized plates will proclaim her name as 'Phooka' - which is an animal spirit of the UK known to assume the form of a horse and then take a human on a wild ride and leave them stranded.  This is actually my second MGB with that name - the first was a 1977 that served as a daily driver for a couple of years!
October 29, 2018 - The Vespa was supposed to be my 'last' vehicle purchase for a while, BUT...  I look at the offerings on eBay, Craig's List, and Facebook Marketplace every day at least once, and am always on the lookout for MGBs to list in the e-newsletter I do for my local MG club.  When I saw a Craig's List ad at the end of July for a rust-free 1979 convertible with overdrive for $4995, I listed it and figured someone in the club would snag it.  It was advertised as having had a lot of work in the past 5 years, including upholstery, carpet, top, dashboard, wiring, rebuilt engine, and clutch! However, the car remained on sale for weeks on end, and I watched the price drop.  Then it suddenly showed up for $3400 on Marketplace in a different city!  This past Friday I let curiosity get the better of me.  I thought the seller had moved, but found out that it had been bought by someone else a few weeks earlier, and the old ad was still up.  The buyer had been looking for an MGB and done a lot of research before picking this one.  Unfortunately, his research did not include insurance requirements, and being under 25 and having his normal cars insured under a parent's policy prevented him from getting coverage on the MGB. The car appeared to be exactly as advertised, but had some rough running issues when we started it up.  Once the car warmed up, it smoothed out and had good power.  There were also some electrical issues which were mostly cured by playing with the original fuse block.  Both the Zenith carb and fuse issues are typical of late-model MGBs, and are not expensive to fix (if you can do the work, which I can).  Besides driving well, everything claimed in the ad appeared to be correct, and it even had the smog pump hooked up and working!  I couldn't resist, and picked her up tonight.  She needs a valve adjustment a new fuse block, and possibly a carb rebuild.  I also want to replace the only jury-rig - a switch for the electric fans that bypasses the radiator temperature sensor.  Another common late-model issue - I will install a new switch and have the fan power run through a relay.  The first order to Moss Motors is already made!

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